A North Carolina man was arrested Friday for allegedly raping and murdering a teenage girl nearly 40 years ago, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Robert James Adkins, 62, was charged with first-degree forcible rape and first-degree murder of Ronda Mechelle Blaylock, whose partly-clothed body was found in a wooded area in 1980. The 14-year-old was stabbed to death, a medical examiner said, but the rape was only officially revealed after Adkins' arrest, per the Mount Airy News. A multi-agency task force was established in 2015 to break the case using DNA testing and evidence that a former sheriff said was in "excellent" condition.
Blaylock was in ninth grade when she vanished on Aug. 26, 1980. A man in a blue pickup apparently gave her and a friend a lift after school, then dropped off the friend first. Witnesses recalled the driver as being in his early 20s or late teens, smoking cigarettes, and listening to rock on the radio; Adkins was 23 at the time. But the investigation stalled, leaving the girl's mother, Rebecca, wanting the killer to spend his life in prison for the death of her only child: "I've been in prison, so to speak, for 35 years," she said in 2015. "I want them to know how it feels not to have your freedom, you know." Rebecca died a year to the day before Adkins' arrest. The sheriff plans to reveal more at a press conference on Wednesday. (Read more cold cases stories.)