Man who beat, raped and blinded woman in Akron denied parole

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AKRON, Ohio-- An Akron family is relieved that the man convicted of stabbing, raping and burning a woman 35 years ago will remain behind bars.

Parole was denied for the attacker who was sentenced to nearly 300 years in prison.

"The crime was so vicious. He ended up blinding her, he locked her in a burning car," said Samantha Headrick, granddaughter of Phyllis Cottle.

In March 1984, Phyllis Cottle, of Cuyahoga Falls, was brutally assaulted on her way to work in Akron. She was forced into her car, tied up, stabbed her in both eyes, raped and left to die after the car was set on fire.

Samuel Herring was convicted of the attack and sentenced to 290 years behind bars.

"He not only robbed her of a life, of being able to see and everything, he robbed her grandchildren also, you know. We didn't go do things with her like, you know, go get ice cream, we didn't get to spend actual one-on-one time with her," Headrick said.

Headrick said her family received news on Friday the state parole board denied Herring's request to leave prison early.

"We found out we weren't allowed to go make a victim's statement," she said.

Cottle survived the attack, but died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 73. Her family feared that Herring could be released since Phyllis couldn't speak directly to the board.

"I know many people ended up writing into the Ohio Parole Board," Headrick said.

She more than 3,600 people signed a petition, demanding Herring remain behind bars..

The petition read, in part, "He has no remorse and no respect for the human race or the law and never will, therefore any consideration for parole should be denied."

Fox 8 spoke with Cottle in 2004.

"I think the victims need to be allowed the time to heal to go on with their lives and not have to live with the prospect of fighting the parole board over and over again," she said at the time.

"I know every time he came up for parole, she was scared… We'll keep fighting, as long as he's living, we'll keep fighting," her granddaughter said.

According to the Ohio Department of Corrections website, Herring will be up for parole again in May 029. He was also denied when he came up for parole previously in 2004 and 2009.

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