The Justice Files: Possible person of interest emerges in 1982 Runyan cold case murder

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SUNSET, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – It’s a tip that Elaine Runyan hopes will end the 1982 mystery of her daughter’s abduction and murder.

Rachael Runyan was 3 years old when she was kidnapped from a playground in Sunset. Her body was later found in a remote area of Morgan County. Rachael’s 5-year-old brother and a younger brother witnessed the kidnapping and notified their mother.

From the 5-year old’s description police released a composite of an African-American suspect.

“We always thought it was a black person so we never suggested to what we’re reporting to you now,” said Elaine Runyan.

From her perspective, the 1982 composite is no longer an accurate description of Rachael Runyan’s kidnapper.

“My son was 5 years old and he thought it was a black man but he always said the composite wasn’t right,” said Runyan. “So he never felt good about it and as he thinks deeply as he has over the years he says ‘I don’t know if it’s a black person mom.'”

The family’s private investigator and the mother are working with Sunset police and investigators with the Attorney General on a new description.

“We’re not just focusing on this person being African-American,” said Jason Jensen, an investigator. “We believe that he’s non-caucasian, that the person of interest responsible for Rachael’s death is likely a dark brown complexion.”

He said another significant change is the suspect’s mustache.

“The mustache in the sketch was not accurate,” said Jensen. “That (Runyan’s son) remembered there being a gap in his mustache where the philtrum is.”

According to Jensen, the suspect’s vehicle did not change over the years. In 1982 it was described as a light blue Ford-Pinto with wooden panels on its side.

“The person tried to get them to Bobco’s for ice cream,” Jensen said. “We know that person was local. Anyone outside the area would not be familiar with Bobco’s as a source to get ice cream.”

For weeks, the private investigator’s Facebook page has been posting these latest developments. It may already be paying off with the public.

A tipster contacted Jensen and Runyan of a man who fits the new description.

“So that’s opened door to a little more exploring and this new lead is amazing,”

Jensen said the tipster never came forward because the person always thought it was an African-American suspect. He said this person of interest lived in the area and drove a vehicle similar to the one in question. Jensen also said this person has a history of sexually abusing children.

Rachael’s mother said police have this latest information on the person of interest and are investigating it.

“I kind of have to protect myself from getting too excited, maybe disappointed,” said Runyan. “But I haven’t had a good lead in a long time. A lot of it makes sense that it could be possible.”

Attempts to reach Sunset police for comment were not successful.

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