BROWNWOOD, Texas — Mother of a murdered Brownwood woman gave forgiveness to her daughter's killer after he was sentenced Friday.
Brownwood man, 22-year-old Ryan Riggs, pleaded guilty to capital murder.
Rhonda "Chantay" Blankinship, 25, was sexually assaulted and murdered by Riggs in May of 2016, according to the Brown County Sheriff's Office.
Blankinship was last seen alive the night of May 13, 2016, a Friday. Searchers found her body two days later in an abandoned cellar on isolated property in northern Brown County.
Catherine McDaniel, Chantay's mother, was in the courtroom Friday. She told KTXS that she had the chance to look her daughters killer in the eyes and say, "I forgive you."
Riggs confessed to the murder during in front of his congregation. The confession came after a sketch was released using DNA found at the crime scene.
Ron Keener, pastor of Northlake Community Church where Riggs attended, has been ministering to Ryan Riggs in the Brown County jail. He prayed over him before he agreed to life in prison.
“Both of them were in our church. That’s what it made it doubly difficult,” Keener stated. He continued, “He knows the consequences of what he did, and those played out (Friday) in court.”
Catherine McDaniel stated that the past three years have been difficult. Now that Chantay has received justice, her mother is at peace. "There is a lot of peace right now, to know it’s over we won’t have to go through this anymore."
McDaniel was happy with the plea deal, knowing that Riggs would spend the rest of his life in prison. "When you lose someone, it takes a toll on your life."
Riggs is currently in the Brown County jail, and is waiting to be transported to a Texas state prison.