KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The sun shines through the branches of long-standing trees overlooking Ridenour Cemetery where generations of families in Union county are buried.
Eddie Campbell helps keep the grounds in shape after recent storms did some damage.
Campbell makes sure each resting place is cared for. Especially the gravesite of 51-year-old Wanda Romines and her 15-year-old daughter Sheila. Both were stabbed to death in their home March 17, 1986, in a crime the community still talks about today.
Stephen Michael West was convicted of kidnap, rape and murder and sentenced to death.
It’s been 33 years. Campbell says it’s time.
“He deserves the punishment, I think,” Campbell said.
Campbell was like a brother to Jack Romines, who lived 20 years after the murders of his wife and daughter, not long enough to witness the end of the story for Stephen West.
Campbell, because he’s not a blood relative, is not allowed to see West take his last breath Thursday at 8 p.m. Instead, he will be at Riverbend Prison, close enough to get word when Stephen West’s execution is carried out, thinking all the while about the close-knit family he destroyed.
He says it’s the little things about Wanda and Sheila that made them so relatable to those who never got to meet them.
“Jack always said she looked like Loretta Lynn, the mother,” Campbell said of Wanda. “And she did kind of favor her, [she] fixed her hair like her a lot.” “I think she had a future. You know, I really do,” Campbell said when asked about Sheila. “No telling where she could’ve got to if she could’ve lived.”
WATE anchor Lori Tucker is a media witness for Stephen West’s execution. We’ll bring you live coverage and updates from Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.