Man who brutally murdered Morristown teen in 1980 up for parole in August

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A convicted killer serving time for the murder of an East Tennessee girl could get out of jail in August. The victim’s family members who live here in the Tri-Cities are fighting to make sure that does not happen.  

38 years ago this month, Randy Lee May brutally attacked Mary Jones and Mitzi Holt in a wooded area. He murdered Mary and left Mitzi to die… she ultimately survived.  

Mary Jones and Mitzi Holt were just teenagers in 1980. 

Investigators say May lured the two girls to nearby woods. He told the pair he was an undercover cop, looking for one of their friends who had “gone missing.”

The girls believed his lie. 

Mary’s sisters say he slashed her throat and stabbed her three times. Investigators told them she was raped and violated after she died. 

May was charged with murder and attempted murder and sentenced to 60 years in maximum security prison. Because of Tennessee’s parole system, the convicted killer could be out of jail in August.

“There’s not a day that goes by we don’t think about her,” says Loretta Warner, one of Mary’s older sisters. 

The two sisters remember Mary as a quiet, loving 16-year-old girl with bright red hair.

But they also can’t forget July 20,1980. The day Mary was brutally raped and murdered by Randy Lee May.

“It haunts us, it haunts my mother, it haunts the whole community,” says Warner. 

The sisters say the justice system has failed them… and failed Mary. 

“They promised us he would spend his time in maximum security and he hasn’t,” says Mary’s second older sister, Patti Conkin. She found out May only spent one year of his sentence in maximum security. 

“I don’t know how the justice system can make us do their jobs. That’s what we’ve done for 32 years, we have fought the justice system because they have been wanting to let him out,” says Warner. 

For the third consecutive year, May is up for parole. Tennessee Board of Parole chairman Richard Montgomery told the family he’ll likely be released soon.

“Montgomery said no matter how long they keep him in there it’s not gonna bring her back and eventually they would let him out,” says Warner. 

The sisters have spent years trying to make sure May stays behind bars. 

“She fought and we fight for her. She fought him, we fight him. If we’d let him out I think he would do it again and I think there would be more lives lost and more families destroyed,” says Warner. 

And after 38 years, they still fight.

“I believe that we can forgive him, but that we need to keep him in prison,” says Warner. 

These sisters hold on to their hope for justice… for Mary. 

“There’s a part of me that really feels that they will let him out, I just can’t understand it,” says Conkin. 

The two sisters say they will be at the parole hearing on August 22 in Bledsoe County and once again ask the state to keep him jail. 

“It’s a push. A push to show them that we are not giving up,” says Warner.  

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