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Family making sure mother’s attacker, rapist stays behind bars: ‘He’s a monster’

AKRON, Ohio  -- Phyllis Cottle survived a vicious attack in 1984 to become an outspoken advocate for victim's rights.

The Cuyahoga Falls woman was on her way to work on March 20, 1984 when she was forced back into her car, bound, stabbed in her eyes, raped and then left in the car while it was set on fire.

She was able to be in the courtroom months later when her attacker, Samuel Herring, was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to a maximum 290 years behind bars.

When she spoke with FOX 8 News 20 years after the attack, before Herring's first parole hearing, she described him as cold-blooded and unremorseful.

"Knowing what he did and each crime was worse, I mean he was only out of prison two months when he attacked me. I mean this man cannot be rehabilitated," Cottle said in 2004.

Cottle died of cancer in 2013.

But as Herring approaches another parole hearing in July, Cottle's relatives are taking up her wish to try and make sure he stays behind bars.

"He's a monster and should never be out of prison," said Cottle's daughter, Robin Hedrick.

"Samuel Herring never showed remorse or accepted the blame for the horrendous things he did to my mom. He took away her simple freedoms and pleasures that we all take for granted. Things she enjoyed and ultimately missed out on -- jumping in the car and going on a drive; taking her grandchildren to the park or out for ice cream. She never got the chance to see what they looked like. He should never, EVER he able to be free or enjoy the simple pleasures of life," explained Hedrick.

During the interview with FOX 8 in 2004, Cottle said she believed the sentence that was given to Herring on multiple convictions was intended to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Her granddaughter, Samantha Hedrick, on Tuesday called her grandmother an amazing woman who rose above her challenges to do her best to become independent but she fears what could happen if Herring was ever released from prison.

"I believe my grandmother wants him to completely stay behind bars continuous; that was her wish. She did not want him out; she did not want this to happen to another person."

Before Herring's 2004 parole hearing, the parole board received more than 1,300 letters and more than 2,000 petition signatures objecting to his parole.

Cottle's relatives believe that played a very big part in his parole being denied.

Even though Cottle cannot be there to object in person, her relatives hope the board will get flooded again with letters on her behalf.

"He tried to murder my grandmother and by the grace of God she survived. He wanted her dead; I believe he should spend his life in there," said Samantha Hedrick.

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