BENTONVILLE -- A 7-year-old girl wanted to know why Glenn Thatcher murdered her father.
The girl's question came in victim impact statements Robert Blau's family members provided to the court at Wednesday's hearing.
Thatcher, 45, of Bentonville pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder in the first degree in Blau's death. Thatcher admitted to shooting and killing Blau, whose body was found Feb. 1, 2021, in a building in Gateway.
Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green sentenced him to 40 years in prison. Thatcher will have to serve at least 28 years in prison before he's eligible for parole. He was originally charged with capital murder but agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.
Prosecutors also dismissed two counts of possession of child pornography against Thatcher. Authorities found suspected child pornography on Thatcher's phone after Benton County sheriff's office detectives obtained a warrant to examine the phone to corroborate Thatcher's statements regarding the blackmail and extortion he claimed he experienced from Blau leading up to the slaying, according to court documents.
Simone Cropper, the grandmother of Blau's 7-year-old daughter, said she wrote her victim impact statement on behalf of her. Joshua Robinson, deputy prosecutor, read the statement in court.
"A piece of my granddaughter's heart has been taken away and can never in a million years be replaced."
Cropper said in the letter Thatcher's actions have hurt not only her granddaughter, but so many others and ruined so many lives. She said her granddaughter is still coping with the loss of her father.
"I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to say anything and this is what she said," an emotional Robinson said, pausing a few moments. "I really, really miss my daddy. Why did you kill my daddy? I miss him so much, and I wish he was here with me."
Robinson told Green that Blau's family members were in favor of the plea agreement but did not feel there was enough punishment for Thatcher.
Kristen Blau told the court she once asked her husband what his biggest fear was, and he replied, "dying."
She said in her victim impact statement she remembers telling her daughter her father was dead. Kristin Blau said their daughter was playing with blue Play-Doh she had received for Christmas.
"She then walked over to me and handed me a blue heart," Kristin Blau said. "All she said was, 'Daddy will always be in our hearts.' Then as I held her, she asked me, 'How did my daddy die?' I told her and she just cried."
She told Thatcher he had taken away a little girl's pride and joy and best friend.
Gracie Blau said the uncle she called "Robbie" was the closest person to her besides her father and brother.
"What makes his death worse is that the person responsible for it used to be a family friend, someone I had known since I was 11," Gracie Blau said.
Robinson also read a statement on behalf of Robert Blau's brother. Josh Blau said in his letter a piece of himself died with his brother.
Thatcher was not present in the courtroom but appeared by video from the Benton County Jail. He apologized to the family.
"I would like to ask that one day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me," Thatcher said. "I'm sorry."