Learn About Gina Renee Hall’s Murder Timeline

On June 28, 1980

Gina Renee Hall was last seen by her sister Dlana who emphatically states: Gina never met Stephen Epperly in a bar and then left with him willingly to go to a cabin at the lake to be “with” him. Dlana believes Gina was taken against her will, but that was not the story told for decades. The murderer’s story became ‘the story”. Why? The 1980 newspaper clippings give an interesting perspective on when exactly that
“composed story” began..

Saturday, June 28, 1980 9:50 PM

Gina Renee Hall borrows Dlana’s Monte Carlo to go dancing at the Marriott Inn in Blacksburg, Va.

Sunday, June 29, 1980 1:00

Dlana receives a phone call from her sister. Gina’s tone is out of character—an apprehensive nervousness in her voice. Dlana asks Gina, Where are you? Gina answers her sister, “I am at the lake”. What are you doing there? “I am looking at it.” Well, who are you looking at it with? Gina’s response —one word—“Steve”…CLICK… Gina does not come home. Dlana Hall & friends begin searching Sunday morning.

Monday, June 30, 1980


The Abandoned Monte Carlo found by Dlana and Gina’s friends. The Monte Carlo was abandoned on Hazel Hollow Road parked almost under the train trestle that crossed the New River from Pulaski County Into Radford, Va. A public boat launch near by. Trooper Austin Hall of the VSP discovered the blood stains in the trunk with visible strands of human hair stuck in the bloody trunk carpet. Thirty-three hours after having last seen Gina, Dlana was certain Gina had been in that trunk—dead or unconscious. And later, the lab report would confirm she had been.

June 30, 1980

Gary Romano murder discovered on I -81 near Pulaski Exit. Murder occurred around 1 to 2 AM June 30. Two murders in 24 hrs of each other.

June 30 - July 1, 1980

The New River is searched and dragged near the trestle on Hazel Hollow Road where the car was abandoned.

July 1, 1989 Search For Gina

One of the first articles titled Search on for Missing Girl had the story close to correct. It was reported that Gina Hall called her sister and told her she was AT CLAYTOR LAKE. This article was written before Epperly was even known to have been involved…before telling “his story” to the authorities… before foul play was discovered at the lake house. By late Tuesday, July 1, 1980, the “composed story” had begun. The statement given by Gina’s murderer and his best friend became “the facts” of Gina Renee Hall’s last moments. After that day, the “composed story” carried forward for decades - that Gina Hall went “willingly” with Steve Epperly.

July 2-3, 1980 The Lake House

The insurmountable evidence inside the lake house definitely painted a picture of Gina’s fight in the end. Gina’s blood was there. Her hair was there. And the blue towel covered in matching carpet fibers cleaned up her blood, her hair. She was beaten fiercely in that lake house.

July 3, 1980

Within days of Gina’s disappearance, Epperly, who had twice before been tried on rape charges, was a person of interest. “Steve”—Fails polygraph July 2, 1980. And within five days, the one and only prime suspect. What we never knew in 1980 was the rest of the story until now.

July 4, 1980

For two intensive months, the Hall family and many volunteers joined investigators in the search around the lake house, all through the vast woods, up and down the New River, and throughout the college town of Radford, Virginia, looking for Gina Hall’s murdered body.

July 12, 1980 That’s A Damn Good Dog

John Preston and his tracking German Shepherd “Harass” were brought in to help the search for Gina. Without any information, Harass was given a piece of Steven Epperly’s clothing and immediately located Epperly’s car in the police parking lot and led police inside the building to the room Epperly was sitting in. Epperly’s reaction was three repeats of “That’s a damn good dog...”.

July 13, 1980

Gina Hall missing for Two weeks.

July-August, 1980

The story continues to become sensationalized: Hall left a bar with a man she did not know…she called her sister to say she met a man at a Blacksburg nightspot and was going with him to a house on Claytor Lake…when she called her sister to say she had met a man at a Blacksburg bar and went to a house on Claytor Lake with him…and many more. This became the story all knew and all believed. The composed story (AP) was even picked up in Richmond, Va and Washington DC papers. And the story continues today still repeating the 1980 “composed story” – girl met a man in a bar and went to a cabin with him alone… Often in criminal cases the actual facts cannot be shared, but the story has to come from somewhere. On Monday June 30, before the “composed story” became “the story”, the car was found and the door handle pull was ripped off of the interior of the car door. That one piece of information could have painted the truth of what happened to Gina Hall, but that is police scene information and not always readily known to the public. But I told them. Gina’s friends told them. One piece of information could have changed perspective.

August 7, 1980 - Support for Gina from Home

August 8, 1980

Epperly goes to Ohio and within days, in that same area, Vicki Koch is reported missing August 10, 1980. John Hall raised reward from $ 10,000 to $ 12,000 in hopes Gina’s body could be found and Epperly arrested. Koch’s body was found in mid-September, no longer a missing person but a murder case, and a cold case still today.

September 8, 1980

Grand Jury Indictment- Murder in the first degree

September 9, 1980 Suspect Jailed

Seventy-four days later, though Gina’s body was not found, Epperly was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

October 1980

November 1980

Epperly is released on bail and Trial Date is set. On November 17, 1980 Pretrial Hearing for admissibility of Polygraph.

December 4, 1980 ...still Searching

 

December 8, 1980 Murder Trial Begins with Jury Selection

Stephen Epperly enters courthouse on trial for the murder of Gina Renee Hall wearing his arrogant and confident demeanor.

December 8, 1980

The Trial began with a field trip to the trestle and the lake house for the judge, jurors, attorneys, court officials, and Stephen Epperly (second on right). Dlana Hall, sister of Gina Hall was the first witness called.

December 16, 1980

The prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Everett Shockley, tried Epperly with only circumstantial evidence—no body, no confession, no witness. He met that burden of proof. Epperly was convicted of murder in the first degree of Gina Renee Hall in Pulaski County, Virginia, and sentenced to life in prison.

As Epperly was led out of the courthouse, the confused, look on his face shows his shock and surprise as if asking himself, How did that happen – How did I not win – They did not have the body?

December 16, 1980 Jury Finds Epperly Guilty

Many believe the dog tracking, with much debate, was an integral piece that helped convict Epperly. It was not, but what it did do is certainly make the trial a more interesting story to tell. Epperly was convicted because of his own statements made to others that became evidentiary facts that supported the extensive exhibits of circumstantial evidence introduced throughout the trial. Gina’s character also played an important role in his successful conviction.

December 28, 1980

The “composed story” even made it to Gina’s funeral. The only explanation for those that knew Gina was that he was a master of impressions. All it would have taken to set the story right would be to bring up the broken door handle or the female witness at the upscale Marriott who came forward the first week reporting what she witnessed inside the Marriott, then maybe everyone would really know what happened in the Marriott parking lot...moments before she was taken, or , or , or…To simply pause and question as the minister did…why would Gina have ever gone with him? The definitive answer: Gina would not have but that would mean the story would have to be changed – corrected.The killer’s story became “the story” and it is still “the story” today— Time for some long overdue truth.

1980

The Hall family did not have Gina’s bodily remains to lay to rest. Everyone went through the motions of having a funeral, remembering all that was good about Gina, but it was a funeral without a body, a headstone with an empty grave.

January 1981 - Coincidence?

August 1981

Gina’s story grew from the disturbing, continuance of “Girl meets man in a bar and goes to cabin on a lake to be with him” to sensational detective magazine stories. The author picked up on the relevant wording used in the trial painting a picture that Epperly was an All American Boy. The defense argued, “I submit to you, a normal, red-blooded American boy does not kill somebody because they didn’t get sex.” But Epperly is not a normal, red-blooded American boy. Gina was murdered by a manipulative psychopath who knew very well how to play the all American boy even as “a boy” almost 30.

September 9, 1982

EPPERLY v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia Appeal Denied In the appeal decision, the items listed that supported the 1980 decision had to do with Epperly himself – his own arrogance. They agreed that the Prosecuting Attorney met the burden of proof that Epperly murdered Gina Renee Hall even without her body as proof a murder had occurred.

October 1982

Often “the story” comes from the accused‘ s statements. An example of another manipulation of the press by Epperly came when he insisted to the reporters after his conviction and during his appeals that if he could just be allowed to take a polygraph everyone would know he was telling the truth. Most did not know that he had indeed already been given a polygraph months earlier, July 2, 1980, actually within days of Gina’s murder, and failed. Again, information that could not be discussed publicly until after the appeal years later. Once the appeal was denied the authorities set that record straight with the public and addressed Epperly’s version of the story. Epperly knew and understood well how to manipulate and create a story the way he wanted it to be perceived.

May 1986 - Gina Hall’s family have no closure as Epperly seeks new trial.

 

1992 until current:

Parole Hearings: Family continues the fight to keep Epperly in prison. Epperly Denied Parole
Docket: 1106705
Inmate: 123376
Stephen Matteson Epperly was denied parole on account of the “serious nature and circumstances of offense.

May 19, 2016

A New, disturbing lead pulled Gina’s sister Dlana back into the web of lies surrounding her murder. It was 1980 all over again for Dlana. What emerged was an unwavering desire to know the truth. Dlana said she could not calm her eastern Kentucky heritage that raged from within, the quiescent warrior awakened, fiercely erupting after having been dormant for decades.

June 2018

Epperly made his 2018 appearance before the Virginia Parole Board. In Dlana’s book The Miraculous Journey, she wrote a chapter devoted to Epperly’s violent history. At the 2018 parole hearing, parts of that chapter were included in her personal, permanent letter of request for parole denial, asking that it be kept in the file as the official victim’s families’ parole denial request and reread at every future parole hearing. The deferrals had recently trended to minimum deferrals probably due to his age. The last parole hearing decision was quickly rendered, setting the next parole hearing at the maximum deferral of three years. As with prior years, he was once again denied early release for three reasons: the board feels he should serve more time; the seriousness of the crime would be diminished by early release, and the serious nature and circumstances of the crime.

As of June 29, 2019

 

Stephen Epperly is currently incarcerated at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia. Epperly has never told anyone where he disposed of Gina’s body

Fall 2019. Coming Soon: Web of Lies Unveiled: A Day Made In Hell.

Dlana’s chronological companion book to The Miraculous Journey will provide a more detailed timeline perspective.

July 17, 2019

Release of The Miraculous Journey: A Day Made In Heaven in Hardcover. Dlana recaps her extraordinary journey to truth and forgiveness through the power of love.

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