Under the Trestle: The 1980 Disappearance of Gina Renee Hall & Virginia's First

Under the Trestle: The 1980 Disappearance of Gina Renee Hall & Virginia's First "No Body" Murder Trial.

by Ron Peterson Jr.

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“Under The Trestle” is the true story of the most compelling murder case in Virginia history. In 1980, beautiful Gina Renee Hall, a Radford University freshman, went to a Virginia Tech nightclub on a Saturday night. She was never seen again. Her abandoned car was found parked beneath a railroad trestle bridging the New River, with blood in the trunk. The investigation led police to a secluded cabin on Claytor Lake, where there was evidence of a violent attack. Former Virginia Tech football player Stephen Epperly was charged with murder, despite the fact that Gina’s body was never found. In Virginia’s “trial of the century,” prosecutor Everett Shockley presented an entirely circumstantial case. Key witnesses against Epperly included his best friend, his mother and a tracking dog handler later believed by many to be a fraud. Three former Virginia Tech football players testified, including a Hokies quarterback once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Would Epperly become the first person in Virginia history convicted of murder without the victim’s body, an eyewitness or a confession? And would authorities ever find the body of Gina Renee Hall?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781532063503
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/20/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 332
Sales rank: 98,526
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Ron Peterson, Jr. has been published in newspapers throughout Virginia and in corporate publications for two Fortune 500 companies. His career includes leadership positions at the Virginian Pilot and Cox Media, where he was awarded the company’s annual “Outstanding Performance” award. Peterson’s background also includes managing television advertising campaigns that have appeared on TV networks CNN, Discovery, Fox News and ESPN. He is a board member of the Hampton Roads Sports Media Hall of Fame. Peterson first wrote about the Gina Hall case as a Radford University senior in 1987, majoring in Journalism/Communications and working as an editor for the university newspaper. In research for this book, he interviewed over 100 sources.

Customer Reviews

Under the Trestle: The 1980 Disappearance of Gina Renee Hall & Virginia's First "No Body" Murder Trial. 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative book. Gives you pieces to the story you wouldn’t know otherwise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great job on the book! I enjoyed it very much...very sad story but he got what he deserves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I do hope this book jogs the memory of someone that can help locate Gina Hall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a freshman at Christiansburg High school when this happened. I remember my mom talking about it and as I got older always hearing it mentioned at various times. I think the author did an absolutely awesome job on research and just the writing and telling of this story in general. I too hope that one day they will find her and her family can get the peace they deserve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found the book very interesting. Happened near my location and just a few years after I graduated from Radford University. Knew several of the people involved. Trial held in my county. Our population has always wanted to located Gina’s body for the sake of her family. Some closure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn’t put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up in the area, a couple of miles from the trestle. I remember this case so well. I was about 16 at the time. I have always wondered what happened to her body. The re are so many facts that I wasn’t aware of. The book sheds new light on the disappearance of Gina. I can only hope that one day he will tell her family where she is buried so they can have closure. Good read.
sidneykay More than 1 year ago
If you start this book, you will not put it down. It is hard to believe that it is nonfiction. Excellent with details, too.
JimFeinstein More than 1 year ago
A great read! The publisher promotes the book as “One of the best untold Virginia true crime stories of the 20th century. I would have to agree! The author does a wonderful job of helping readers get to know both the victim (Gina Hall) and the killer (Stephen Epperly). His account of the evening of Gina’s disappearance (June 28, 1980) is a chapter of the book when I literally, ould not put the book down. The investigation of Epperly and the search for Gina provides a fascinating look at what goes on in these type of investigations. The trial itself is incredible, as the prosecutor tries to do something that had never been done in Virginia — convict a person of murder without a body. I won’t spoil the ending . The closing chapters of the book shares info about thee fascinating four decade search for Gina’s body. All in all,this book is a page-turner that you can’t put down.
dianedavis More than 1 year ago
This book tells an amazing true story of a 1980 murder case that has the same "feel" as a plot line from a John Grisham novel. Yet, incredibly, it is true. The author does a wonderful job of introducing readers to a young college girl -- Gina Renee Hall -- at Virginia's Radford University, who goes out for a night of dancing at a nightclub and is never seen again. An unassuming state police officer -- Trooper Austin Hall (no relation to Gina) -- whose experience is mostly patrolling the highways and byways, happens across Gina's abandoned car. Trooper Hall is thrust into the position of lead investigator and follows the leads to a secluded cabin on Claytor Lake. At the lake cabin, there is evidence of a violent attack. Investigators identify a suspect -- a former Virginia Tech football player, Stephen Epperly. The author, who apparently interviewed dozens of old acquaintances and teammates of Epperly, does a frighteningly vivid job of sharing Epperly's violent background with the reader. Considerable forensic evidence points directly at Epperly as the killer. In an edge-of-your-seat chapter of the book, Trooper Hall interrogates Epperly at the police station, with the suspected killer stubbornly denying his involvement. Meanwhile, as the summer of 1980 progresses, Gina is believed certain to be dead. A massive search continues for months, with police from every surrounding county and hundreds of volunteers searching rugged Southwest Virginia for Gina's body. Readers are introduced, in heartbreaking fashion, to Gina Hall's father and sister, who marshal their own group of volunteers to hunt for Gina. Gina's father, John Hall, even convinces the authorities to let him have a one-on-one meeting with the suspected killer, Epperly. Desperate for any type of "lead," two psychics are brought in to consult on the case. Readers then get to know young Pulaski County Commonwealth Attorney Everett Shockley, who is faced with a career-defining decision. As prosecutor, does he indict Epperly for murder without Gina's body? As of 1980, there had never been a "no body" murder conviction in Virginia. Shockley's peers advise him not to move forward with murder charges against Epperly, fearing that a jury would acquit him at trial, due to "reasonable doubt" that Gina was, in fact, dead. Then, even if her body later showed up, Epperly could not be charged again, due to "Double Jeopardy" provisions in the constitution. Finally, against the wishes of many, Shockley indicts Epperly for first degree murder. The sensational trial is Southwest Virginia's "trial of the century." Shockley calls 31 witnesses and presents over 90 pieces of circumstantial evidence. Three witnesses for the prosecution are former Virginia Tech football players. Several witnesses share incriminating statements made by Epperly in the weeks after Gina's disappearance -- not confessions, but "implied admissions." And for the first time in a Virginia courtroom, tracking dog testimony is presented, as one of the country's top tracking dog handlers takes the stand (incidentally, he was believed to be a fraud by many, years later). It's impossible to put the book down, as the author moves to the exciting conclusion: Would Epperly become the first person in Virginia convicted of murder without the victim's body? And would authorities ever find Gina's body, finally giving her family a sense of closure?