Who killed Rachel Runyon?

Update: Close to 40 years after the abduction of Rachel Runyan, a change to the case is made and a new possible person of interest is identified.

On August 26, 1982 three-year-old Rachel Runyan was abducted from a playground near her home in Sunset, Utah. 24 days later Rachels body was found partially submerged 20 miles from the playground.

The only witnesses to her kidnapping were her older and younger brother, ages 5 and 1, at the time. According to them, a man approached the group of children at the park, offering to buy them ice cream from a local establishment. Rachel began walking away with the man until her older brother called for her to come back. As Rachel turned to walk back, the stranger grabbed her and sprinted away.

Two and a half years after her abduction, police discovered a gruesome message scrawled across the bathroom wall of a local all-night laundry that read:

“Beware I’m still at large I killed the little Runyan girl. Remember beware!”

Update: At the time of the investigation into the abduction, police used Rachel’s 5-year-old brother’s witness account to draw up a sketch of the perpetrator. At the time, the child believed the perpetrator to have been an African American male in his 30’s. Now almost 40 years later, investigators have changed the description of the possible person of interest in the case. He is no longer described as an African American male, but is not Caucasian, and of dark brown complexion.

The update to the possible perpetrators profile has already pointed police in the direction of a local man who has a history of sexually abusing children.




  1. Catsfor79

    Please don’t beat yourself up. Yes, the case is horrific and unimaginable. The only witness was 5 years old and it sounds like he was traumatized from witnessing his sister’s kidnapping. There was nothing you could have done to change his response or get an accurate description from the child.
    I could not do your job and think it’s one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
    Please know things happen that are out of our control no matter how hard we try to change.


  2. Jay

    I was the first officer to arrive on scene. It was my call to handle. As soon as I arrived it just felt wrong terribly horribly wrong. My only witness a young boy I was trying to do his best but at that time didn’t understand what was happening. I pushed the help button and our then tiny Police Dept mobilized. Soon the whole nation was focused on Sunset. We know what happened we just don’t know the “who”

    Fast forward to July 2021 and I am now retired after 40 years as a police officer. This case has never left my head or my heart.

    They say that there are always a few cases that as a cop you never forget. This is one of those for me. I hope that they solve it and that there is some closure for the family after all these years. I have second-guessed myself multiple times over these many years wondering what could I have done differently that might’ve helped when the call first came out. The answer is always the same nothing, and that’s what haunts me…


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