Magnet Fisher Found Key Evidence 9 Years After Couple Was Allegedly Lured to Their Deaths on Craigslist

A firearm and some of the Georgia couple’s personal effects were found in April, just months before the long-delayed murder trial is scheduled to start

<p>budandjunerunion/Facebook</p> June and Elrey “Bud” Runion

budandjunerunion/Facebook

June and Elrey “Bud” Runion
  • In January 2015, Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns, then 28, allegedly responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, and June Runion, 66, who were seeking a 1966 Mustang

  • Elrey and June traveled to meet Towns about the vintage car he falsely claimed he owned. Four days later, the couple's remains were found

  • That same day, Towns turned himself in. His murder trial is slated to start in August

Months before a long-delayed murder trial in Georgia begins, investigators claim they have recovered key evidence in the slayings of an elderly couple allegedly lured to their deaths on Craigslist.

On Sunday, April 14, a magnet fisher in Telfair County, Ga., recovered a gun allegedly connected to the couple’s deaths, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a press release. (It is unclear if authorities believe this is the murder weapon.)

Then two days after the first find, the fisher — using a magnetic device to retrieve metal objects from the water — pulled up more evidence: a bag holding the couple’s drivers’ licenses and credit cards, as well as a cell phone investigators believe belonged to them, per investigators.

“It was a good case already,” District Attorney Tim Vaughn of the Oconee Judicial Circuit said, per WJCL. “But this makes it an even better case.”

<p>AP Photo/Courtesy of the Cobb County Police Department</p> Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns in 2015.

AP Photo/Courtesy of the Cobb County Police Department

Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns in 2015.

On January 22, 2015, Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, and June Runion, 66, of Cobb County, Ga., traveled to McRae, Ga., to look at a 1966 Mustang they heard about on Craigslist, their family said on a Facebook post 24 hours after the couple went missing.

Four days after the Runions disappeared, the Telfair County Sheriff’s Office recovered their bodies, along with the couple’s vehicle, which was submerged in a nearby lake.

Later that day, Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns, then 28, who was the last person to have communicated with the couple by phone, turned himself in, ABC News reported at the time.

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Towns, who allegedly responded to Bud’s online request seeking out the Mustang, did not actually own the vintage car, the Associated Press reports.

Towns faces charges connected to the armed robbery and deaths of the couple, per the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He has pleaded not guilty, per the AP.

His lawyer, Franklin J. Hogue, was unavailable by phone for comment on the case Wednesday afternoon.

<p>budandjunerunion/Facebook</p> Elrey “Bud” Runion, and his wife, June Runion.

budandjunerunion/Facebook

Elrey “Bud” Runion, and his wife, June Runion.

The Runions were married for 38 years, per their joint online obituary. Bud was remembered for founding Forever Grateful Ministries, a Christian organization, which their family continued in their memory.

The double-murder case, which has lagged in the court system for nine years, was first delayed when the original indictment was thrown out because of a problematic grand jury selection and later by the pandemic, per the AP, which attributes further delays to the fact that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Within days of the magnet fisher dredging up the firearm from Horse Creek, investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Telfair County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at a nearby home on the 400 block of Webb Cemetery Road in McRae–Helena, Ga., per the bureau of investigation.

Towns lived on the same block prior to his incarceration, per his online booking records and absentee 2020 voting enrollment as collected in The South Georgia Times.

The investigative bureau said investigators recovered additional evidence at the home, which will be “further” analyzed at a crime lab.

The trial is tentatively scheduled to start in August, according to the investigative bureau.

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