The episode titled ‘Bethany Vanished’ of Dateline NBC takes us right in the middle of the disappearance and murder case of the pregnant 21-year-old woman, Bethany Decker. It chronicles how her then-boyfriend, Ronald Roldan, killed her in January 2011 in her Ashburn apartment and the decade-long investigation that followed. If the episode has made you eager to gain more information about the perpetrator, including his crimes and his current whereabouts, we have your back. Let’s dive right into the details, shall we?
Who is Ronald Roldan?
Born in the early 1980s, Ronald Roldan is a Bolivian national who moved to the States when he was 11 years old. He met Bethany Decker when he moved in near her apartment, and by that time, he was a father to at least four children from three different women. During the youngsters’ visits, the two reportedly helped each other look after the kids. When one of his children tragically passed away, supposedly of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Bethany was there for him through the tough time. This led to them growing closer and forming a relationship, despite the fact that the former was married. However, as their relationship grew, Bethany started to find him of a controlling nature and was advised by her parents to leave him on a number of occasions.
Although the relationship had fizzled out, as per Bethany’s claims, Ronald refused to get out of her apartment. After her parents changed her phone number, he ended up buying her a new phone altogether. On the day the pregnant Bethany went missing, January 29, 2011, he admitted to seeing her that afternoon, making him one of the last persons to see her. Soon after her disappearance, Ronald moved on and started seeing waitress April Snyder, whom he accused of cheating after he saw some text messages on her phone. Court papers revealed that in a fit of rage, he spat on her face, threw her belongings onto the front lawn, grabbed her arm, and pushed her down the stairs. He was charged for this conduct but he paid $2,500 in compensation and got the charges dropped.
When that ship was sailed, Ronald got into a relationship with mother-of-three Vickey Willoughby, both of whom worked together at Malones Restaurant in Manassas, Virginia. After they started living together, she asked him about his involvement in Bethany’s disappearance case, only to find him getting angry and defensive. As the days went by, he became more controlling and straight out threatened to hurt her. When she decided to quit her job and move to a house in Pinehurst, North Carolina, he forced her to allow him to move with her. This turned out to be a huge mistake as within a few weeks of the move, Ronald started having some dark and violent episodes wherein he used to physically abuse her.
One particular night, on November 11, 2014, Ronald and Vickey got into a deadly gunfight inside their apartment as the former forced himself onto her while she pulled the trigger of her gun a couple of times in self-defense, injuring him right above his heart and on his gut. Instead of slowing him down, it enraged him further, so much so that he emptied the remaining three bullets from the chamber aiming at her, injuring her gravely. When the authorities arrived at the scene to intervene, Roldan surrendered and both were taken to the hospital. Vickey lost her right eye and was in the ICU for five days.
A couple of years after this incident, in January 2016, Ronald was taken to court but pleaded guilty to two reduced charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. A few years down the line, the 40-year-old Ronald was charged with abduction by force or intimidation in the disappearance of his former girlfriend, Bethany Anne Decker, in November 2020. He revealed that they had gotten into an argument and when he pushed her, she hit her head on the windowsill in their Ashburn apartment. When he checked for signs of life, he got really scared when he couldn’t find any. Instead of doing the right thing and calling 911, he decided to put her body into a Christmas tree disposal bag and dispose of her body in the trash compactor at their complex.
Where is Ronald Roldan Now?
A couple of years after his arrest, Ronald Roldan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with respect to the disappearance case of Bethany Decker. Several months later, on February 21, 2023, Ronald was sentenced to 40 years in prison in a Leesburg courtroom, with 12 and a half years of his sentence suspended as part of a plea deal where he went on record explaining how the murder took place. However, it was agreed that if he commits another crime or violates other conditions, including having no contact with his victim’s family members, he would serve the full sentence. With his release date being November 24, 2031, he is currently being held at Greensville Correctional Center, which is a prison facility situated at 901 Corrections Way in Jarratt, Virginia.