Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Rhonda Hinson

Real Name: Rhonda Annette Hinson
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Valdese, North Carolina
Date: December 23, 1981


Details: On the night of December 22, 1981, just three days before Christmas, nineteen-year-old Rhonda Hinson attended her first office Christmas party. She had recently graduated from high school in Valdese, North Carolina, and started a job as a clerical worker for a local steel company. At around midnight, she and two of her friends left the party and headed home. At approximately 12:30am, she dropped her friends off and began the ten mile drive back home, where she still lived with her parents, Bobby and Judy.
At 1am, Judy awoke from a sound sleep with a strange premonition: she believed that Rhonda had been hurt or possibly killed in a car accident. Bobby also awoke and decided to turn on his police scanner to see if an accident had occurred. They then heard that a homicide had occurred; the victim was Rhonda.
Rhonda's car was discovered on Mineral Springs Mountain Road, just a half mile from her home. The driver's side door was open, and just a few feet away, she was found dead. She was lying on her back, with her arms deliberately placed at her side. She had been killed by a single bullet fired from a high-powered rifle. It had traveled through the trunk and her seat and had penetrated her heart. Police believed at first that her murder was a random act of violence until an investigation revealed that she may have known her killer.

Crime scene photo of Rhonda's car

Rhonda was popular in high school; she was an expert tennis player with many close friends. However, several weeks after her graduation, she began to behave strangely. Although she was normally comfortable driving alone, she began to ask Bobby to accompany her on trips into town. During one, she said that she had something to tell him, and that it was bad. When he asked her to explain further, she said she'd think about it. However, she never explained to him what was troubling her.
Judy also recalled a strange conversation she had with her. Rhonda asked her if it was ever okay to be in a relationship with a married man. Judy said it was never okay, because it would only end in people getting hurt. She did not know why Rhonda asked this question; she did not know if Rhonda was asking for herself or for a friend.
In the weeks prior to Rhonda's murder, Bobby and Judy noticed that she was suffering from insomnia. She also began getting up in the middle of the night and taking showers. She told Judy that she "felt dirty". According to police, this is usually the behavior of someone who has been sexually abused. It suggested to police that she was under some kind of pressure.
Police also uncovered evidence that suggested that Rhonda was being stalked by someone on the night of her death. Between 12:15 and 12:30am, a witness drove under the Interstate 40 bridge on Mineral Springs Mountain Road. She observed a blue GM Chevrolet facing in a northerly direction, with two white males inside. It was parked next to the same off-ramp that Rhonda would later use to exit. It was spotted just thirty minutes before she was shot and just two-hundred yards from where her body was found.
Later that evening, another witness traveling down the same road passed by a similar blue vehicle, with a single man behind the wheel. It was speeding away from the murder site. As he continued down the road, he saw Rhonda's at the same spot where her body would be found. He saw her slumped over the steering wheel with an unidentified man standing at the front driver's side door. He was unable to get a close look at him. Assuming that they were a drunk couple, he drove on.
In order to remember more about his sighting, the witness agreed to undergo hypnosis. He described the car leaving the scene as a blue Chevelle, a 70s model, with a messed up front end, and a gray primer. He described the man next to Rhonda's as between 5'10" and 6'0", with a medium build and dark brown hair. He also recalled seeing another one parked down the road from Rhonda's. It was a black or dark blue Trans Am. Some believe that it was driven by her killer.
Several latent prints were found on Rhonda's driver's side door. Investigators believe they belong to her killer; however, they have never been identified. Her murder has never been solved, and a $20,000 reward is being offered for information.
Suspects: Based on various statements and actions Rhonda made prior to her death, investigators believe that she may have known her killer. Her family does not believe that she would have stopped her car for a stranger. They believe that she stopped for someone she knew, who then shot at her as she drove away.
Shortly before Rhonda's murder, one witness noticed a blue GM Chevrolet parked near the area where she was found dead. Two unidentified white males were inside it.
Another witness saw the same car speeding away from the murder scene. He also saw an unidentified man at Rhonda's driver's side door. He went under hypnosis and described the unidentified man as 5'10" to 6'0", with medium build and brown hair. He was driving a black or dark-blue Trans Am. He described the car leaving the scene as a blue Chevelle, a 70s model, with a messed up front end and a gray primer.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 15, 1989 episode.
Results: Unsolved. According to Judy, foreign DNA was recovered from Rhonda's sweater, however, it has never been matched to a suspect. Recently, there has been speculation that Rhonda's ex-boyfriend and a friend may have been involved in her murder. However, the theory has not been confirmed. Her family and the investigators are still searching for answers.
In December 2021, investigators announced that new leads were being investigated in this now over 40 year old case, and there is optimism it can still be solved despite the amount of time that has passed.