McRAE, Ga. (AP) — The car belonging to a Georgia couple who were reported missing after traveling to meet a person claiming to sell a classic auto has been found in a lake and two bodies were found nearby, authorities said Monday.
Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns, 28, the man who last had telephone contact with Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, and his wife, June Runion, 66, turned himself in Monday to face charges of giving false statements and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception. He hasn’t been formally accused of harming the couple, however.
The Runions’ car was found submerged in a lake near McRae in southern Georgia’s Telfair County, county Sheriff Chris Steverson told a news conference. The bodies were found near the car but not in the water, and had not been positively identified, Steverson said. No information was immediately available on the cause of death, he said.
Bud Runion had posted an ad on the website Craigslist seeking a 1966 Mustang, Steverson said. On Thursday, he and his wife left their home in Marietta, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, and headed for McRae, nearly three hours south, to meet someone who responded to the ad, Steverson said.
The Runions’ daughters became worried when their parents didn’t show up Friday to babysit their grandchildren, they told WSB-TV. The couple had their cellphones and chargers when they left, but no one had heard from them since 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the daughters said.
“If someone has taken them, we have forgiven that person, because God tells us to love and forgive,” daughter Virginia Owens said.
Towns was the last person to reach the Runions by phone, Steverson said.
“When we investigated the statements he made, we realized they were deceptive and false,” Steverson said. He said investigators believe Towns was attempting to rob the couple, and there is no evidence that he owned the type of car the Runions were looking to buy.
[UPDATE: On Jan. 27, 2015, Towns was arrested for shooting the Runions to death. Click here to read the story.]