SUNSET, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – There’s a renewed push to help missing children in Utah. They are getting a stronger voice in honor of Rachael Runyan.
Rachael was 3-years-old when she disappeared from a playground in Sunset near her home in 1982. Saturday marks 35 years.
“August 26 is a very bittersweet day for our family,” said Elaine Runyan, Rachael’s mother.
Elaine reflected back on that day with ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.
“I was making sloppy joes and trying to make a nice lunch for my children.”
Elaine said she could see Rachael and her brothers playing from her kitchen window. The playground was only about 15 feet from her home.
Enticing her with candy, police say a man was able to grab Rachael’s attention and lure her to his car. Her brother’s followed close behind but the man picked Rachael up and ran with her.
“He grabs her and shoves her in the car. By now she’s screaming and the boys were just frightened and ran home to tell me the bad news,” Elaine recalled. “It was just shocking to have our world turned upside down right then and there.”
After searching for 24 days, Rachael’s body was found in a stream in Morgan County.
Chief Ken Eborne with the Sunset City Police Department was helping out on the case before he was in law enforcement.
“I was 18 years old at the time,” Eborne remembered. “I was one of the volunteers that helped stuff flyers that got mailed all over the country. At that time I had no idea that I would be in law enforcement and that I would be in the role that I am now.”
Eborne said Saturday is “a dark reminder of the bad time that came to this town. Thirty-five years ago a real evil person passed through this town and did a very terrible thing.”
“I’ve seen a lot of officers that have worked for this city and other cities that all had involvement in this case and I know as they retire this is one of those cases that will stay with them forever.”
This case is an unsolved mystery. As of right now, there are no suspects.
“I always have hope, always. They’re solving cases that are 40 years old and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to have that,” said Elaine.
On Saturday the Runyan family along with law enforcement and elected officials with gather at the park where Rachael was abducted. August 26 is known as Missing and Exploited Children’s Day. On Saturday the day will officially be known as Rachael Runyan Day.
A memorial will also be unveiled at the park.
Elaine hopes the day will not only bring awareness to Rachael’s case, but to other missing children’s cases as well.