BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Ronald McClung was sentenced on Tuesday to life without mercy for the 2021 murder of Tonya Adkins by Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Dimlich.
McClung pleaded guilty to the murder in February of 2023, setting up a 15-to-life sentence on one count of first-degree-murder.
McClung’s own account of events has varied substantially depending upon the time of questioning, but it was ultimately determined that he struck Adkins in the head with a baseball bat leading to her death. McClung also admitted at one point to removing the clothes of the victim while she was deceased and engaging in intercourse with the body.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of Raleigh County, Brian Parsons, representing the state in the case, questioned lead Detective Robert Robertson with regard to whether McClung ever appeared to accept responsibility for his actions.
“I would not say that,” responded Detective Robertson, who told the court on Tuesday that he spoke with McClung over the course of several separate interviews regarding the events that transpired.
Following the murder, an extensive search was conducted in an attempt to locate the body. McClung led detectives to a general area near where the body would eventually be located, but the discovery was not made until weeks later when Detective Robertson conducted an independent search.
The defense established the possibility of weather conditions having impacted the final location of the body in relation to where the defendant believed it to have been left.
The body of the victim was recovered in a bush area across a four-wheeler path near New River Drive, and it is believed that the body had been submerged in water for a significant period before being discovered.
“This has been a nightmare for our family,” declared Adkins’ sister-in-law, Avery from the stand. “When we were searching for her, we were 50 yards away from her body and didn’t even know it. We smelled her and didn’t even know it, because he decided to dump her,” she said of McClung. “He took the opportunity for her to watch her sons grow up. That is something we have to live with forever.”
Adkins’ sons, now ages 9 and 11, were a recurring topic during Tuesday’s proceedings, and are now under the custody of Adkins’ mother.
McClung himself gave his latest account of how the events transpired, stating that he had been engaging in drug use with the victim prior to her passing and that he has no recollection of the murder itself.
Issuing sentencing, Judge Dimlich noted a lack of accountability and remorse from the defendant with regard to the events. It was also noted that McClung’s accounts of what occurred have varied wildly over the course of the investigation, with one account referring to a purported ATV crash as the cause of Adkins’ death.
“While you may have taken police to the general area of where the body was, I do think you’ve hindered this investigation as best you could; I believe you tried to get rid of evidence the best you could,” said Judge Dimlich.
“I don’t really sense that you have remorse. I think you have remorse for yourself, and sitting here today, I don’t see that you have any contrition or sadness over the brutality that you have inflicted on this victim.”
Ronald J. McClung was sentenced to a term of life without mercy on the charge of first-degree-murder, which also entails court costs and the amount of $3,946.33 in restitution to the Crime Victim Compensation fund.