The case of

Ronnie O'neal

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Victim

Ronnie O'neal

Victim Race
Victim Date of Birth

1989

Victim Age

33

Date Reported
Date of Death

2018-03-19

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Riverview

Body Location
Date of Conviction

2018-05-20

Body Discovered Date
Murderer

Ronnie O’Neal III

Ronnie O’Neal was born in 1989. At the age of five, he was sexually abused at the hand of his extended relatives but never received any treatment for the trauma he suffered. Although he struggled through his schooling years, Ronnie managed to graduate and attempted to join the US Marine Corps but failed the entrance exam.

Ronnie had been arrested three times before the 2018 attacks on his family. He was arrested for obtaining food or lodging with intent to defraud, marijuana possession, and driving without a valid license. Just five months before the killings, Ronnie suffered a gunshot wound during a drive-by shooting. During the surgery following the fatal accident, Ronnie flatlined four times. Neither his friends nor family took Ronnie into their homes while he recovered. Despite warnings, his ex and mother of his children, Kenyatta, took him in.

In 2018 29-year-old Ronnie was living with his ex-girlfriend 33-year-old Kenyatta Barron. Ronnie and Kenyatta had two children together, a daughter Ron’Niveya O’Neal born in 2009, and a son Ronnie O’Neal IV born in 2010. Ron Niveya was diagnosed with autism. She was nonverbal and struggled to walk when she was younger. Ronnie and Kenyatta were no longer together, and although living with them, Ronnie had a more recent girlfriend with whom he had an additional child.

Ronnie had become a follower of the Nation of Islam and was trying to convert Kenyatta and his children to his new religion. Which they refused.

Kenyatta Barron reported dead

On March 19, 2018, Hillsborough County officers responded to a 911 call regarding a domestic violence dispute at the Riverview home of Ronnie O’Neal and Kenyatta Barron. Kenyatta called 911. While on the phone, the operator could hear the brutal beating.

Eight minutes later, a second 911 call was received. This time it was Ronnie calling to say he had been attacked by white demons and accusing Kenyatta of trying to kill him. He said he killed her in self-defense and gave the operator his home address.

When the officers arrived at the scene around midnight, they found 33-year-old Kenyatta Barron lying facedown on the sidewalk outside the home. She was declared deceased upon arrival. She had been shot and beaten to death. Kenyatta had fought her way outside, causing some neighbors to witness the brutal murder. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and shotgun wounds to the torso and extremities.

8-year-old Ronnie IV in a burning home

The family’s home was on fire. An emergency fire rescue team entered the building yelling for anyone alive to come to them so they could help them out of the home. That is when they found 8-year-old Ronnie IV. He was covered in blood and had severe injuries and burns. He had stab wounds to the neck, abdomen, and chest. After Ronnie had stabbed Ronnie IV, he poured gasoline over his body and set him on fire resulting in 30% of his body being covered in burns. Ronnie IV was immediately transported to the hospital to receive urgent medical treatment. Ronnie was also found inside the home. However, he was immediately taken into custody. Unfortunately, 9-year-old Ron’Niveya O’neal was still missing. She was later found with multiple stab wounds and burns. She was deceased.

Ronnie O’Neal was arrested on May 20, 2018, and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree murder with a weapon, first-degree arson, and resisting an officer without violence.

Trial and Sentencing

The trial began on June 16, 2021. During the trial, 8-year-old Ronnie O’Neal IV testified against his father. He stated that his mother and father had been arguing about religion that night and that his father shot his mother. He said his father made him hold the shotgun pointed at his mother, but he couldn’t remember if the gun went off while holding it. However, he recalled that it went off once before he had it.

Ronnie III served as his own attorney, cross-examining his surviving son Ronnie IV. He claimed that his son had lied to investigators about the incident.

On June 21, 2021, Judge Michelle Sisco delivered the sentence to Ronnie. Ronnie O’Neal was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson, two counts of aggravated child abuse, and one count of resisting a law enforcement officer. On July 23, 2021, he was given three life sentences without the possibility for parole, plus 90 years, running consecutively.
“Nineteen years I’ve been in this job,” Judge Sisco said. “I’ve seen human beings killed by the hands of others in every way imaginable. This is the worst case I have ever seen.”

What About Ronnie O’Neal IV?

On November 25, 2019, 9-year-old Ronnie O’Neal IV miraculously survived. He was adopted by detective Mike Blair, who cared for him the night of the murders. Upon joining the Blair family of 7, Mike, his wife Danyel, and five other children, Ronnie IV changed his name to Ronnie Blair. When asked about the adoption, Ronnie Blair says he is loved and a part of his new family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Ronnie III’s motive for murdering his family?

Ronnie O’Neal III had become a follower of the Nation of Islam and was trying to convert Kenyatta and his children to his new religion. When they refused, he decided it would be better off to remove them all from this world and set their Riverview home on fire.

What happened to Ronnie O’Neal IV?

Ronnie IV miraculously survived the brutal attacks. He was adopted by detective Mike Blair, who cared for him the night of the murders and changed his name to Ronnie Blair.

What sentence did Ronnie III receive?

Ronnie O’Neal was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of arson, two counts of aggravated child abuse, and one count of resisting a law enforcement officer. On July 23, 2021, he was given three life sentences without the possibility for parole, plus 90 years, running consecutively.

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