Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney speaks with Virginia Parole Board about potential release of Stephen Epperly

New River Valley News

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — On Wednesday, members of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for Pulaski County spoke with the Virginia Parole Board about the potential parole release for Stephen Epperly, the man convicted for the 1980 murder of Gina Renee Hall.

Hall was a freshman at Radford University when she was killed on June 28, 1980.

Investigators say on the night of her murder, she had gone to the Blacksburg Marriott Lounge. That decision put her in the path of Epperly.

The Virginia State Police says Gina left the lounge with Epperly but whether or not she left with him willingly is still in question.

State Police also indicate that Gina went to a house around Claytor Lake. There, she called her sister Dlana from the lake house. Investigators say that during the call, Gina mentioned that she was with a man named Steve.

This was Gina’s last call and marked the start of the search to find her.

Hall’s death marked Virginia’s first no-body conviction.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski County, Justin L. Griffith, shared the following statement with WFXR News on Wednesday, May 26 after speaking with the Virginia Parole Board about Epperly’s potential release:

As I have previously told this county, today our office was given the opportunity to speak with the Virginia Parole Board regarding the potential parole release of Stephen Epperly.

We all have learned that many things regarding the Virginia Parole Board are done behind closed doors and with a cloak of secrecy.

Our office was proud of what was said to them today and believes you have a right to know our exact words.

I started off the hearing by explaining that this crime occurred before I was born and I am simply honored to be able to speak for continued justice on behalf of our county and the Hall family. It was disclosed to them up front that the whole room and this whole county are united in our demand that his parole be denied. I followed with two specific stories that I promised members of this community I would relay.

I explained, ‘As I am sure you know, we recently suffered through a tragic robbery at the hands of a paroled individual and I do not believe this county should have to endure another paroled predictable ticking time bomb returning to our area.’

I then explained, ‘There is no fiscal responsibility for his release that could touch the tip of terror Epperly has placed on the Hall family and this community. His release would be an abomination of peace to the New River Valley. His release would erode the sanctity of a jury verdict by a group of his peers. His release would undermine the Virginia Supreme Court which upheld this verdict.”

I continued with ‘as long as I am in this office, his release will be met head on with support opposing his parole equal to an army of seven nations. His release never has been nor will it ever be supported by my office. As I said in my letter, the only way he should leave prison is horizontal, on his back.’

I reminded the Virginia Parole Board, if he is paroled, he will be given the opportunity to be reunited with his family. June 28, 1980 was the last time the Hall family was with Gina Hall. In what county does a convicted murderer get an opportunity that a victim’s family cannot ever have? I will tell you where that place shouldn’t be and that, is in Pulaski County.

I wrapped up with, ‘On behalf of all in this room and this whole county, I ask that he be denied parole and any future hearings be denied for as long as possible.’

I was promised that I would be notified when a decision has been made.

Justin L. Griffith, Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney

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