Boy Who Testified Against Father Who Killed His Mom and Sister Now Calls Florida Sheriff Who Saved Him His Dad
Ronnie's biological father, Ronnie O’Neal III, made headlines earlier this year after he chose to represent himself in court. He was later sentenced to three life terms plus 60 years in prison.
This is the unlikely story of how one family grew in size —and love.
When he was eight years old, Ronnie was in the hospital recovering from stab wounds and burns. He got a visit from Hillsborough County Sheriff Mike Blair, and Ronnie asked Mike to watch a movie.
“I told him ‘no, I can’t. I’ve got to go back to work,’” Mike says. But he promised Ronnie he would return.
“So I called my wife, we were planning to have a date night that night, and I said, ‘Instead of date night, do you mind if we go watch a movie with this kid?’” Mike explained.
Danyel Blair, who became Ronnie’s mom, says that she’d already known that they wanted to take Ronnie home with them, starting that night.
Five months later, the Blair family grew from seven to eight when Mike and Danyel adopted Ronnie.
But despite the happy ending, this family met through a tragic situation. Part of little Ronnie’s story has already made headlines.
His biological father, Ronnie O’Neal III, was convicted of killing his son’s mother and disabled sister, stabbing his son, and setting their house on fire in 2018. And Mike Blair was one of the officers who responded to the scene that night.
Earlier this year, O’Neal III chose to represent himself in court, including questioning his son, who testified against him. He was sentenced to three life terms plus 60 years in prison.
And now, young Ronnie is thriving.
“He knows he has a story that has been written for him,” Mike said. “He also knows he doesn’t want to be defined by that story.”
And even with a new caring family, Ronnie says he remembers his biological mother and sister with love.
“She was nice, pushed me on a swing, made me some good wings, made me all types of food. She was just a good mom.”
“My sister, she couldn’t talk, but she, like, could move her hand. We used to do sign language,” Ronnie added.
Ronnie is making new memories with his siblings and parents. He loves science and wants to be an actor someday.
“If you were to ask him what his mantra was, as it comes to family,” Mike said, “He would say, ‘I am safe. I am loved. I am part of this family.’”
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