STARKE, Fla. (WFLA) – Barring a last-minute reprieve, convicted serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin will see his final Florida sunrise Thursday morning. It’s been 30 years since the abduction and murders of two young women and a teenage girl who lived in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties.
Bolin faces a 6 p.m. execution Thursday at the Florida State Prison in Starke on a death warrant for the murder of Teri Lynn Matthews, age 26, Bolin’s third victim. Matthews vanished on December 4, 1986 after planning to have dinner in Tampa with her boyfriend.
The morning after her disappearance, the boyfriend, Gary McClelland, found Matthews’ car abandoned and still running in the parking lot of the Land O’ Lakes Post Office. McClelland died December 8, 2015 from cancer, 29 years after his girlfriend’s murder and just one month before he could see Bolin pay for what he did.
Matthews’ mother, Kathleen Reeves, age 78, attended all 10 of Bolin’s trials — usually in the close company of the mothers of Bolin’s other two victims, Stephanie Collins, age 17, and Natalie Blanche Holley, age 25. “I’m not going to give up,” Reeves told 8 On Your Side during one trial delay in 1996. “I’ll be here as long as it takes.”
Reeves left her Brooksville home Wednesday and headed to Starke a day early to witness Bolin’s execution. “I’m on my way,” Reeves told News Channel 8 in a phone message.
Bolin, whose nickname was “Needles,” worked as carnival hand and truck driver in the years before his arrest in 1990. He was officially linked to at least one other rape and murder and suspected of numerous others across the nation, but he never prosecuted for those crimes.
Bolin still maintains his innocence in the murders of Matthews, Collins and Holley, despite physical evidence presented at his trials, the eyewitness testimony of his kid brother, and damning testimony from Bolin’s former (now deceased) wife and his cousin’s wife.
Bolin also has the faithful support of his current wife, Rosalie Bolin. She served as a “mitigation specialist” on his defense team before falling in love with Bolin, divorcing her husband and marrying the convicted killer by telephone while he was behind bars.
The mother of Natalie Holley is now deceased, but Reeves reportedly will be joined in the death chamber witness room at the Florida State Prison by Anita Holley, the sister of Natalie, and Donna Witmer, the mother of Stephanie Collins. Other relatives of the three victims will possibly be present. and possibly other relatives of the three victims.
Rosalie Bolin is not allowed to attend under the policies and guidelines of the Department of Corrections which ban relatives of condemned inmates from the witness room.
On Wednesday Bolin’s attorney Bjorn Brunvand told 8 On Your Side he was still waiting for a response to his final appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. If that appeal fails, Brunvand plans to file a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution, which is his last chance of keeping Bolin alive. Brunvand said if he can’t block the lethal injection of his client, he too will be in the witness room as Bolin draws his final breath.
One hundred and thirty miles away, brightly colored artificial flowers adorn a grave site at Florida Hills Memorial Gardens in Springhill where Teri Lynn Matthews is buried. A bronze grave marker bears her name, date of birth and date of death, along with a simple description composed by her mother: “Beloved Daughter.”