By Rachel Dove
WILLIAMSON - After being informed of the arrest of a Williamson resident on charges of sexual abuse and sexual assault of a minor, the mother of a child who was raped 12 years ago by the same man was horrified, as the memories of what her daughter went through at the hands of her then-stepfather came flooding back.
Determined to tell her story in hopes of sending a strong message to prosecutors, law enforcement and the residents of Mingo County that, in her words, “Vernon Eugene Hambrick is a monster that should be locked up for the remainder of his life”, Robynn Campbell contacted the Daily News to publicly share her feelings.
Campbell is the ex-wife of Hambrick, 45, who was recently arrested on eight counts; four counts each of sexual assault-third degree, and sexual assault by a person in a position of trust, involving a 12-year-old female relative who was staying at the residence of the defendant, who is a registered sex offender. Hambrick was released from prison in 2012 after serving a 10-year sentence for the rape of Campbell’s 8-year-old daughter. These acts occurred when the couple was married.
“This nightmare scarred my daughter,” the mother said. “It scarred our entire family. It was like a death - we grieved this circumstance. That’s the best way I know to explain it.
“If it had not been for all the love, prayer and support that my daughter had from all those who cared about her, she would not have survived this… . I would not have survived this. You learn just how strong you are when being strong is the only choice you have.
“This man is proof that evil does walk here on Earth,” Campbell said. “He is the devil … he is the epitome of all that is wrong in this world.”
Campbell told the Daily News that she had nightmares about the day that Hambrick would be released from prison. During his incarceration, she claims to have received numerous letters from him in which he threatened not only her life, but the life of her youngest child, who was born after she remarried.
“He wrote crazy things in his letters … he said he was going to cut me up into little pieces and eat me. No one understood what we have went through, but my heart breaks because I know that now, the family of the 12-year-old that he (allegedly) sexually assaulted will experience the same fears, the same terror. He is a monster that feeds on destroying young girls’ lives and the lives of those who love them.”
Campbell has spoken with Williamson Police Chief Barry Blair and West Virginia State Police Sgt. Dale Hensley about the case involving her daughter in 2002, comparing similarities with the current case that has the defendant behind bars on a $160,000 bond. Campbell said she has offered to testify if needed, and told the officers she would do whatever she could to make sure that Hambrick stays behind bars, where he can’t inflict this type of pain on another victim.
“My fear is that he will somehow manage to make bond and be released from jail,” Campbell said. “If he gets out, he will run. He has nothing to lose because he knows with his past criminal history, he is looking at a very long prison sentence. I pray with all my heart they keep him right where he is … I pray he is never again a free man.”
Campbell appeared in Mingo County Magistrate Court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing and waived his case to circuit court. He was represented by Williamson Attorney Jerry Lyall. Assistant Prosecutor Justin Marcum represented the state. A request by Lyall for a bond reduction during the hearing was denied by Magistrate Pam Newsome. It was also revealed that the defendant has strong ties to Detroit, Mich., and was considered a flight risk.
Marcum said that once the case is in circuit court, other charges are expected to be added and said that, with the severity of the crime and considering that Hambrick is a registered sex offender, and also a repeat offender, an increase in the amount of his bond will be requested to assure he stays behind bars.
“He will receive no leniency in our courts,” Marcum said. “Crimes against children are the worst, and we will punish Hambrick to the fullest extent the law allows for his actions.”