By Marty Gordon
Diana Bodmer has taken a “miraculous journey” in dealing with something she hopes no one else will ever have to. Her sister, Gina Hall, was killed 36 years ago.
Since then, Bodmer has experienced ups and downs, even wondering what would have happened had gone out with Gina instead of staying home with a headache. Bodmer’s car was at the center of the investigation after it was found abandoned along Hazel Hollow Road across the river from Radford.
Only recently has Bodmer been able to return to the community where the sisters had attended school. She held a candlelight service in Bisset Park this past summer to remember her sister. More than 100 people attended the event.
Bodmer has now written a book titled “The Miraculous Journey: A Day Made in Heaven.” It is a 500-page real-life true-crime narrative of murder, mystery and miracles. She admits there have been tough times, but the writing of this book has proved cathartic..
Bodmer said it is time for the truth – Gina’s story- and for her sister’s voice and those of many of other women.
The 1980 murder trial gained notoriety and set precedent as Virginia’s first successful conviction from a “no body” case. The burden of proof was met, and Stephen Epperly was sentenced to life in prison for Gina’s murder.
At that time there were only seven previous cases in which a man had been convicted without a body being found, without a confession and without witnesses.
Bodmer said that the defense at the trial portrayed Gina as willingly leaving a popular dance spot to go to a lake house to be ‘with’ Epperly. The sister has always felt that was a lie, and her journey with the book has convinced her. She has called the trial a cover up of truth surrounding Gina’s murder. The new book delves into these new revelations.
New attention to the case started two years ago with the release of a book by Ron Peterson that examined details and the arrest of a suspect. Still, Gina’s physical body has never been found.
Some people continue to search, and Bodmer would like for that part of the mystery to be concluded, but she has come to grips with the conviction that Gina’s body is at peace.
Bodmer’s book digs through the details of Gina’s case, including relating the riverbed search for her suister’s hidden bones. But Bodmer never could have even imagined all that she discovered as she wrote. She believes Epperly is a serial killer.
“There are other families who need peace, forgotten missing persons or cold cases sitting on the dusty shelves. Truth sets the heart free,” she said.
The front cover of the new book shows an image Bodmer found in a stream, which became a major inspiration for her journey and the book itself. She said she would never have shared the details of her journey had she not captured the miraculous photo on the front of the book, a picture she took with her iPhone on Aug. 12, 2016, while she was searching for her sister’s hidden grave.
“I could not keep the miracles, especially the photo I captured, to myself. Angels lighting up the water with a very clear divine message, right there off of Hazel Hollow Road. And my spiritual army made sure I captured it, and that is a message for everyone to see–visible Proof of God,” Bodmer said.
As part of the journey, Bodmer has also forgiven her sister’s killer, who still sits behind bars serving a life sentence.
“Forgiveness was possible only through living the journey that began in May 2016 when Andy (Wilburn, then a Radford City police officer who has made it a personal agenda) shared a horrific but viable lead with me (chapter 1). Then, I went home, fell to my knees, and prayed to God for truth,” she said.
From there, she started listening to more of her dreams, visions and understanding the incident. In chapters 22 and 23 of the new book, Bodmer reached full forgiveness.
“It took my spiritual army, my love of Gina, and my heart freed from carrying the burden of hate and unforgiveness of her murderer. Through truth, the only truth that matters, I forgave him,” she said.
Bodmer believes the light spreading out in the water in that previous mentioned photo was a clear message that she calls the proof of God for those who need proof.
“It was a clear, visible message from a spiritual realm that loved me enough to let me know that Gina’s soul met Jesus at the foot of the cross,” she said.
“This story is about so much more than just discovering the truth of what really happened that horrific night in 1980. I learned to ask the questions that matter, contemplating everything I thought I knew about this world. Ultimately, I learned to listen to my heart. Finding truth is a personal journey, Bodmer said.”
On June 28, 1980, Gin their final conversation, Gina told her sister, “Listen to your heart, not your head,” advice that has reverberated with Bodner throughout her journey.
Now 60 years old, Bodmer admits she had an awesome life and experienced a lot just as her sister would have wanted her to.
“But I would never have imagined I would be lovingly apprehended and taken on a journey that would reveal so much about the purpose of life,” she said. “I have asked the same questions many of us at some time or another may have asked: Is there a God? A spiritual realm? Satan? Heaven? Hell? Why is there so much evil in our world? How do we overcome it all? How do we forgive? What is the purpose of my life? And on and on and on,.”
Bodmer said truths have come out during this journey, and all she did in the book was share the truth of those experiences.
“Gina was like an angel on earth, but that night she experienced hell on earth, and what was meant for evil is now being used for good,” Bodmer said.
The book is a story of a sister’s love, of forgiveness and of how light shines in the darkness.
The book also includes several new crime revelations, and they are still coming, according to Diana. Many of those will be revealed in a second book she is working on, including one of a
suspect allegedly impersonating a police officer.
“So that is now a theory I will share and give serious consideration to, which leads always to this question:How many, who else out there needs to heal from a missing loved one, or a cold case,” Bodmer said
“More information was given to help me continue to piece together this puzzle. It is God’s timeline and his will.”
The response for this new book has beery very positive as social media has become the main venue. Bodmer has self-published the book and originally purchased 2,000 copies. She now has some 1,000 left. She has also given 250 away to libraries, colleges,and people she felt crossed her path for a reason.
“I believe it has been received well considering it was just a few months ago that it was released, and it has organically spread mostly through word of mouth. God’s got this,” Bodmer concluded.
The price of the book is $35 with free shipping. It is available at TheMiraculousJourney.com.
The second book, titled Web of Lies Unveiled: A Day Made in Hell, is a companion book that provides more details about the unraveling of the chronological facts of Gina’s murder.