Dateline revisits an old murder case with a new episode airing on Friday, March 27 at 9/8c on NBC. The 2-hour episode presents new, unexpected information around the death of Dana Rosendale in 1982, prompted by the investigations of Rosendale’s daughter Brittany Stork.
NBC’s official synopsis for the episode, entitled “Return to the Lonely Road,” read s “Brittany Stork’s decades-long quest to find out more about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a dramatic courtroom decision. The man at the center of the case tells his story on network television for the first time.” The episode includes interviews with Brittany Stork, Detective Bob Bratton, Prosecutors Paul Dobson, Gwen Howe Gebers, and more.
According to The Toledo Blade, Dana Rosendale’s cause of death on September 11, 1982 was originally deemed “undetermined.” She was just 19 years old at the time. Years later, unsatisfied with that conclusion, Rosendale’s daughter Brittany Stork began searching for answers. Over 30 years later in 2013, Stork demanded her mother’s remains be exhumed and reexamined, and the coroner came to the conclusion that Rosendale had died after suffering three blows to the head. The death was ruled a homicide and Russell Adkins was convicted in 2016 of causing her death.
The Blade reported that during the 2016 trial, Adkins “maintained what he told Northwood police in 1982: that he had taken Ms. Rosendale and her friend home from a South Toledo night club on Sept. 5, 1982, and she had fallen out of his car, which had a faulty passenger door latch. She died Sept. 11, 1982, at Mercy St. Charles Hospital.”
According to The Cinemaholic, the case was ultimately overturned in 2018 after it was deemed by the court that Adkins had not received a fair trial.
Brittany Did Not Know About Her Late Biological Mother Until She Was in Kindergarten
Brittany Stork was only 8 years old when her mother died, so she never really knew her mother. In fact, in a preview for the Dateline episode, Stork revealed that it wasn’t until she was in elementary school that she learned the woman she believed was her mother was actually her grandmother.
Recalling the memory, Stork said a kindergarten dance teacher asked how her mother died: “She had asked me, ‘How did your mom die? Was she in a car accident?'” Confused and sad, she returned home to her family to tell them about the conversation with her teacher, and they confirmed that Rosendale had died in a car accident when Stork was a baby.
As she got older, Stork began looking more closely into the inconclusive death of her mother, ultimately leading the efforts to get the case reopened with newfound evidence that it was not a car accident, but a possible homicide.
A Woman Named Roberta Axtell Was Charged for Threatening Brittany on Facebook in 2016
In 2016, following the sentencing of Adkins for the murder of Rosendale, a Facebook group arose called “Free Russ Adkins Now.” The group shared a threatening message directed at Stork, which read “And for the little [expletive] who started all this you better watch your [expletive] back cuz I’m coming to get you and your daddy but if you want to go to the police with that tell them I’m threatening you you go right the [expletive] ahead cuz that’s exactly what that [expletive] is a [expletive] promise of Retribution.”
According to WTOL 11, a woman by the name of Roberta Axtell was charged with two felonies, Intimidation and Retaliation, for writing the threatening post.
The Sentinel-Tribune reported in 2017 that Axtell pleaded guilty to one count of retaliation and was sentenced to probation and a $1000 fine.