Caveat Emptor: Couple Apparently Murdered While Looking For Vintage Mustang On Craigslist
June and Bud Runion, whose love for the 1966 Mustang convertible may have led to their deaths.
This story is admittedly a bit on the tabloid side for our august site, but the terrible misfortune of a Georgia couple should be a cautionary tale about trying to buy things from strangers online advertising at sites like Craigslist that provide no protection of any kind to the buyers or sellers. Usually that protection is fiduciary, though not having to deal face to face when transacting trade does have its advantages. Of course, there’s nothing in this story that couldn’t have happened when most used car ads were in newspaper or penny-saver classifieds, so it’s not a case of the internet changing everything, but it’s still a reminder that trying to buy a special car can go wrong in so many ways.
I’ve never bought a car from someone off of Craigslist, but I have bought some office equipment and, more recently, some inexpensive guitars in my quest to provide a First Act and Switch Vibracell counterpoint to the Baruth Collection’s Gibson, Heritage, G&L, and Paul Reed Smith custom shop jobs. For safety reasons some folks won’t let you come to their home and you have to meet someplace public. I used to think that buying a 1964 Teisco hollowbody in the parking lot of a Walmart made me feel a little bit like transacting a drug deal and that the sellers were being unduly cautious, but after reading about this tragedy in Georgia I’ll concede that maybe those sellers have a point. The presumed murder of the man and woman in Georgia takes the warning caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, to an entirely new level.
Bud and June Runion, 69 and 66 respectively, disappeared last Thursday after they had posted an ad on Craigslist wanting to buy a 1966 Mustang convertible. The couple had dreamed of buying one since they were married many years ago but that dream turned into a nightmare. Their 2003 GMC Envoy was found submerged in a lake and not far away authorities have discovered the bodies of a man and woman that fit their ages and descriptions. While positive identifications haven’t yet been made, the Runions’ family have apparently acknowledged their loved ones fate.
Ronnie “Jay” Towns, photo courtesy of Telfair County Sheriff’s Office
The owner of the phone listed last on the log of the Runions’ phone, Ronnie “Jay” Towns, 28, turned himself into the sheriff’s office to face charges of giving false statements to police and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception.
The couple was discovered missing when they missed a scheduled date to babysit their grandkids on Friday. After someone answered their Mustang wanted ad, they are believed to have driven the 180 miles from their home in Marietta to McRae, GA, presumably to see a vintage muscle car that they didn’t know was fictional.
When contacted by ABC News, Craigslist representatives referred to the free classified ad site’s “safety page”, which states, “Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.”
I suppose that posting a wanted-to-buy ad makes you particularly vulnerable to those looking to take advantage, but I want to be clear that this story involves victims and a predator and that I’m not blaming the victims. I feel silly even having to say that the Runions didn’t deserve to die. Only one person is responsible for this crime, the murderer.
At the same time, if you’re about to buy something expensive, like a car, with cash, from a complete stranger, particularly traveling out of town to meet them, it might not be a bad idea to ask for some personal and business references before you head out the door.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Runions’ family and friends.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS
-Nate on Jan 28, 2015
" I’m sorry about your experiences, Nate, but “I left home when I was 8 Y.O” ? How does this happen? 8 year old children haven’t left home since Huckleberry Finn and even he was 12 or 13 " Short answer : why go home when every day it is made clear that you're not wanted there ?. I read Mark Twain's books when I was 6 / 7 years old and was too young and ignorant (different than stupid) to realize they were just stories & not ideas to copy.... Don't feel sorry for me ~ I'm fine and only skip meals when I want blah blah blah . -Nate
Moorejustin2025 on Jan 08, 2022
I was in jail with this guy. I'm from McRae. He said he didn't do it. He also said he didn't use drugs, but after talking to people they say he was on drugs. You can see how skinny he was in his arrest photo vs how big he is now. My theory is he was strung out and needed money. The evidence seems really strong against him in my opinion. Just really really sad. My heart goes out to victims family.
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