• Rod Kackley

The Murder of Ronda Mechelle Blaylock, A Shocking True Crime Story

The thermometer out in front of the local bank shows the temperature was 87 degrees. The farm show on the radio says the dew point is a little over 60; just another steamy, late August afternoon in North Carolina.

This is the first week of public school for the 1980-81 scholastic year. With a bright smile on her face and pigtails in her hair, Ronda Mechelle Blaylock is walking home from classes at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with a friend.

Both girls are 14-years old. While walking near Rural Hall Bowling Lanes, a blue Chevy pickup pulls up alongside the girls. The driver offers Ronda and her friend a lift home.

It’s not unusually hot and sticky for August in North Carolina. But even for two kids who grew up in this heat, it’s uncomfortable. So it’s no surprise they accept.

Ronda’s friend is dropped off along some railroad tracks near Tuttle Road and Priddy road. She continues on her way home, walking alone, with no hint of what lays ahead for her friend, Ronda.

A few hours later, Rebecca and Charles Blaylock call Ronda’s friend, asking if she’s heard from Ronda. Shortly after that, Rebecca and Charles file a missing persons report. They would never see Ronda, alive, again.

August 29, 1980: Ronda is discovered dead, only partially clothed, her body left in a wooded area, near Sechrist Loop Road In Surrey County, about 18 miles from the spot where Ronda and her friend got into that blue pickup truck.

A medical examination shows that not only was this child murdered, but she was also raped.

There’s no doubt about the friend’s story. There are plenty of people who saw the two girls get into that Chevy truck and drive away.

But who was behind the wheel? No one knows. Ronda’s friend tells detectives he had straight brown hair, feathered on the sides and a light beard. He was wearing a black T-shirt, white tennis shoes, faded jeans, aviator-style sunglasses, and a baseball cap.

However, the teenager can’t give detectives his name, and no one had noticed the truck’s license number.

Two years later, the case goes cold. But in 2015, Surrey County Sheriff Graham Atkinson forms an unusual, multi-agency task force with one purpose: find the killer of Ronda Mechelle Blaylock.

Those on the task force have an advantage over their fellow officers who worked this case in 1980. Now they’re backed by new crime-solving methods and something law enforcement couldn’t even dream of four decades ago, DNA technology.

Detectives begin bathing evidence and looking through forensic material from the crime scene.

They start to four on a guy by the name of Robert James Adkins. He’s been married with an adult son. Adkins has lived in the area where Ronda and her friend were walking in 1980.

On August 2, 2019, with his brown hair and beard gone white and stringy, wearing a grey t-shirt and blue coveralls, Robert James Adkins stood for a mug shot. Looking at least ten years older than his age of 64, he was arrested and charged with killing and raping young Ronda.

Adkins, who most recently lived in Dobson, North Carolina, would plead guilty to reduced charges in December 2020 of second-degree murder and second-degree rape.

Chances are, Adkins will never go home again. At least that’s what Ronda’s family hopes. Thanks to a plea deal, Adkins was sentenced to 21 to 25 years in prison on each rape and murder charges. The sentences will run concurrently.

Rebecca and Charles Blaylock never learned that their daughter’s murderer was captured. Both died a few years ago.

A cousin of RondaKevin Thomas says the family wasn’t happy with the plea deal. They wanted to see Adkins sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and rape.

The end of this case, he says, leaves the Blaylock family with an empty feeling and without any sense of closure.

“We just hope with all things considered that he dies in prison,” Kevin says. “We didn’t have any say in the matter. All we can do is accept it.”

A woman’s dead body is tossed off a cruise ship. It’s homicide on the high seas, a tale of murder and greed, a true crime story you’ll never forget.

The Murder of Mary Takahashi: A Shocking True Crime Story is available wherever you buy books, and, of course, at Rod Kackley's Crime Stories Bookstore.

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