PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WGHP) — The family of Ronda Blaylock is frustrated since her murderer is up for parole review just three years after he was sentenced.
The murder dates back more than four decades.
“He has had his 40 years of freedom. Now he needs to pay for what he has done. He admitted it. He’s guilty. He’s in jail, and he should stay in jail,” said Sherrif Thigpen, Ronda’s first cousin.
It started on Aug. 26, 1980, when 14-year-old Ronda Blaylock disappeared. Three days later, her body was found in Pilot Mountain. The autopsy says Ronda was raped and stabbed to death.
Decades later, a task force re-opened the case. Thanks to DNA technology Robert James Adkins was arrested on Aug. 2, 2019, for the murder and rape charges. On Dec. 17, 2020, Adkins was sentenced to 21 to 25 years in prison for the murder and rape.
This week, Ronda’s family is in shock that a parole review is set to happen. They waited 40 years to finally receive the news that the killer was caught. Ronda’s cousin said she finally felt at peace. Now that sense of justice has been taken away as they wait to see what happens once again.
“Playing Barbie’s together, being at my grandparents’ house sharing times together there, playing in the woods,” Sherri Thigpen said.
She shared many memories with her cousin Ronda.
“We would spend the night at my grandparents’ house, and we would lay in bed at night and just talk about teenage girl things, and she would kind of tell me some what was going on when she started dating guys and stuff like that … teenage talk mostly,” Sherri said.
When Sherri was 12 years old and Ronda was 14 years old, Ronda was raped and murdered on her way home from school.
“It had my innocence taken away. It made me afraid of everything … It put a fear in me,” Sherri said.
She lived with fear and uncertainty for 40 years until the day she got word Adkins was arrested.
“There was peace in knowing that finally he is where he needs to be,” Sherri said.
That peace lasted until this week, when she heard news that Adkins will have a parole review.
“I think he should pay for what he has done. He took her life away … His life should be taken away, too,” Sherri said.
The parole commission has not made any decisions on when or if Adkins would be released early.
Sherri says if they do move forward with parole, it sends the wrong message.
“That Ronda’s life meant nothing … We don’t matter .. His life is more important than hers … That is what it means to me. They are saying that she didn’t matter enough to keep him behind bars,” Sherri said.
No matter the outcome of the parole review, there won’t be a day Sherri doesn’t think about Ronda.
“I teach eighth grade … To think that she was about the same age as the kids that I teach every day at school, and she was just a sweet girl living her life and had hopes and dreams just like all my students do,” Sherri said.
FOX8 spoke with former Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson who now sits on the parole commission.
He says this is a mandatory parole review by law, and the process is only beginning. It usually takes about six weeks to review the case, hear responses from people involved and give a recommendation and have the parole commissioners vote.