Bill named in honor of Radford University student would prevent some murderers from getting parole

Gina's Bill is being discussed during the current special session

The family of a former Radford University student who was murdered continue to fight for justice after 40 years.

PULASKI COUNTY, Va – It’s been 40 years since Radford University student Gina Renee Hall was murdered. She would have turned 59 on Monday.

Her body has never been found and Stephen Epperly, the man convicted of killing her, has filed for parole on his life sentence every chance he has gotten.

Epperyl’s murder conviction was the first in Virginia to happen without a body.

“People don’t realize what goes on in the background. We’ve been fighting parole for decades, every three years and since 2016 we had three back to back,” said Gina’s sister Dlana Hall Bodmer, who has been searching for answers in her sister’s death for years.

Bodmer is working to change Virginia’s parole laws with the help of state legislators who are considering Senate Bill 5103, sponsored by Senator Ben Chafin.

The bill, introduced this week during the special session, has become better known as Gina’s Bill. If it becomes a law, it would set standards for Virginia’s parole board that convicted murders would not be eligible for parole without disclosing where their victim’s body is located.

“It seems almost heartbreaking to realize that every time you go to a parole meeting that you not only have to relive that crime, but in our case that we never found Gina’s remains. The body tells truth,” Bodmer said.

Everett Shockley was less than a year into his former role as Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney when Epperly’s trial started.

He has documented almost every development of the case since it started and said he’ll never forget the impact her story had on her friends, family and the community.

“All of those people were just burden with knowing she’s dead, knowing she’s murdered, but where in the world is she?” said Shockley.

Bodmer said she’ll never stop searching for answers about what happened to her sister and hopes the proposed legislation will bring ease to other victims across the commonwealth.

“What I hope for families is that they do not have to endure the heartbreaking reality of the realization that they have not brought their daughter or their sister or their child home,” Bodmer said.

Gina’s Bill is set to be considered by the Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services on Friday.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.