The Justice Files: The forgotten composite of a killer

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It was a composite drawing that was long forgotten.

But now the family of Rachael Runyan and a private investigator are dusting it off and making the public aware of the composite drawing.

In 1982, Rachael Runyan was kidnapped near her Sunset home and later found murdered.  Her 5-year old brother and a ten-year-old boy offered police a description of the suspect.  From those descriptions, two composite drawings were created.  


But only one composite has been shown repeatedly over the 38-years since the 3-year old was abducted.

“Here it looks specifically African American and people think ‘oh we’re looking for an African American,'” Private investigator Jason Jensen said of the original composite drawing. 

But Jensen discovered a second composite drawing that was released to the media in 1982 but it was long forgotten.

Justin Runyan is Rachael’s older brother.  He was 5-years old at the time of the kidnapping and was with Rachael when she was abducted.  He was up close to the stranger and interacted with him.  He said he never the original composite didn’t seem right.

“I wanted them to change some things but (police) wouldn’t and it wasn’t until I was older and met with the FBI and they said it was because the other kid was ten and he knew better,” Runyan said.  

Jensen displayed the second composite to the Runyan family at the South Ogden Cemetery. They met on the anniversary of Rachael’s kidnapping. The second composite drawing was very different.

“Clearly this rendering looks different as far as ethnicities,” Jensen said.

Justin Runyan recalled that as a 5-year old he had a hard time differentiating people’s race.


“I had a really hard time describing,” said Runyan who is now 43-years old.  “He was between a Mexican and black or really a light-skinned black guy.  I didn’t know of a lot of races out there.”

But Runyan still thinks the second composite the private investigator discovered isn’t quite right.  He recalled his meeting with the composite artist.

“I’d tell the composite drawing artist that it needs a gap in his mustache,” Runyan said.  “(There were) certain little criticisms on what I thought the composite had wrong.”

But he said the gap in the suspect’s mustache was never created by the artist.
ABC4’s art department altered the forgotten composite and is now offering it to the public to see. Jensen said he recently received a tip about a man who was living in the Sunset area at the time of Rachael’s kidnapping.

“I believe the person, the tip that we got, is a local,” Jensen said.

He told the Runyan family that the person of interest resembled the second composite.  He knows who the person is but will not disclose the name.  He did provide Sunset police with the name of the individual.

In 1982, Justin Runyan recalled a conversation with the stranger.  He said the suspect wanted to take Rachael for ice cream at the local Bobco grocery store.  Jensen said that information is something only a member of the local community would know.

“If they would have stayed focus on the Sunset community,  we might not be doing this 38-years later,” he told the family.  “So, it’s a local.  It has to be a local. He mentioned Bobco.”

The forgotten composite may have helped with the investigation but Justin Runyan isn’t blaming anyone.

“There’s no blame,” Runyan said.  “Everybody was doing the best they could do at the time.”

The chief of Sunset police confirmed they are investigating this person of interest and are gathering DNA to compare it with their evidence.

There is a $10,000 reward being offered by the Utah Cold Case Coalition.  Anyone with information that helps lead to an arrest and/or conviction can contact the coalition or Sunset police.

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