CUYAHOGA FALLS — A man convicted in the 1984 attempted murder, rape, beating and blinding of a Cuyahoga Falls woman is expected to spend at least nearly another decade behind bars.
The Ohio Parole Board has denied 63-year-old Samuel J. Herring’s request for parole, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday. His next scheduled parole hearing will not be until May 2029, said Smith.
"I’m completely relieved and just excited that he is going to stay in there," said Samantha Headrick, granddaughter of Phyllis Cottle, the victim in the case who died of cancer in January 2013 at 73.
Headrick said that according to the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, 3,655 signatures were collected on various petitions and submitted to the parole board requesting Herring not be released. Of those, said Headrick, about 2,800 were collected online and "the [Akron] Blind Center collected a lot of signatures as well."
"I just want to thank everyone that played a part in it, that helped, either wrote a letter or a signature or even both," she said. "It means a lot to me and the family."
Herring was convicted in Summit County Court of Common Pleas of attempt to commit murder, kidnapping, rape, aggravated robbery, felonious sexual penetration, felony assault, and aggravated arson in connection with the March 20, 1984 attack.
According to Justice for Phyllis, a Facebook page set up as part of the campaign to keep Herring behind bars, Cottle was abducted at knifepoint while going to lunch in Akron, taken to a vacant home and "repeatedly raped, robbed, tied up then stabbed in both eyes (resulting in total and permanent blindness), locked inside her vehicle which he then set on fire."
Herring was then sentenced to up to 290 years in prison. The attack came two months after he was paroled from prison. He is currently incarcerated in the Richland Correctional Institution.
Following the attack, Cottle spent the remainder of her life as an advocate for crime victims and the blind. This included working to keep Herring behind bars as well as working with the Akron Blind Center.
"She was amazing, kind, she welcomed anyone into her home, even after what happened," said Headrick during the campaign to keep Herring in prison in early June. "She didn’t let what happened hold her down."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.