The Heartbreaking Case of little Rachael Runyan

 

The case of Rachael Runyan is disturbing, and I’ve learned that I should warn readers early on of troubling subject matter especially involving crimes against children. This is that warning.

The very first article I wrote for this blog in February,2017 was about April Marie Tinsley, a little eight-year old girl who was abducted, raped, and murdered in Indiana in 1988. I’ve avoided writing about any cases like this since then as it’s incredibly hard to do. Writing about children that are terrorized and murdered takes something out of you and makes realize just how shitty this world can be; or at least some of the people in it. At the same time, these cases need to be solved and a spotlight shined on the monsters responsible for these horrifying crimes.

Rachael Runyan is another little girl that came face to face with evil and didn’t survive. It’s cases like Rachael’s that make many parents afraid to let their children out of their sight, even if just to play in their yard. On August 26th, 1982 three-year-old Rachael Runyan played outside of her house only about 15 feet away while Rachael’s mother Elaine prepared lunch. Rachael, along with her two older brothers were lucky enough to live right next to a school and playground in the town of Sunset, Utah. The Runyan children took advantage of the location, and enjoyed themselves before dinner. It wasn’t long before a man approached the group of kids and began offering them ice cream and bubble gum. The man was able to gain Rachael’s trust and without warning, grabbed the innocent three-year-old and threw her into his car before speeding away. Rachael’s young brothers watched helplessly. The boys immediately ran in and told their mother what happened, and horrified, she called police. When police arrived, they quickly started the search for little Rachael.

Continue reading “The Heartbreaking Case of little Rachael Runyan”

Murder in Amish Country; the case of Lindy Sue Biechler

 

This article is a reprint of a Guest-Blog article that I wrote for the late true crime writer, Michelle McNamara’s site TrueCrimeDiary.com

(If you have not explored Michelle’s wonderful true crime articles, be sure to check out her site TrueCrimeDiary.com while it’s still up)

Over the years, I have corresponded quite a bit with Lindy’s family, so her case is one that is very important to me. Here’s the article as it appeared on TrueCrimeDiary.com-

 

 

Lindy

Date Published 05.26.13

Guest blogger Mike Morford operates the website zodiackillersite.com.  He lives in New Jersey.

 

The words are as chilling now as they were when they were first committed to paper in 1976.

“hi sheeler (Police Chief Sheeler)

Just Eats up your heart knowing you havn’t caught me yet, still around, Lindy’s marker on her grave just turned me on like she did, and the way she looked all bloody, like the paint on her Marker, the scratch and nick marks represent the knife stabes.

Count them.

you wondered if the guy at the gas station in Mountville were related to Biechlers murder. forget it man, no way.

I’ll tell you what Chief Pig, you print this Letter in the paper along with a Picture in Friday nights Lancaster Paper and saturday mornings paper, and I might confesss When I get off my trip. You see the world owes me a living, maybe I give you a few hints who I am.

got busted once for Drugs a few years back

Live in West end of Lancaster Suburbs

I am 5’10” tall 205 LBS fat and Beautiful

and capable of killing again without knowing it

Dec. 5, 1975 was under the stupor of amfetamines Like right know.

Well educated man in the Community, single, good job but god please chief help me I am loosing my mind help me before I kill again, the headaches kill me Every time it aches, the Drugs only Calm it temporarily.

Will god forgive me ———

Please print this Chief in the paper so I know you got it. v then I write you again, god I need a priest what have I done.

Help me please

P.S. chief sheeler my friend has confess to the killing of Lindy Sue biechler, as god is my withness Do as he asks, print this letter on the front page, I am not aware of his intentions right now but contemplating murder is not his intentions, he is mentally sick. When the letter appears, then he will turn himself in, he described the relationship he and Lindy had before he killed her. He only realizes it now when your on Drugs your not responsible for your actions. Please he is asleep now. That’s why I finished the letter. All I can tell you my friend frequents manor shopping center in the Evenings and the fields around it. Mostly weeknights. He will contact you very soon and oh when he Does please bring a Catholic priest to the police station. Janice Crum”

 

 

+++++

These are the contents of a letter sent to police in the case of a young murder victim in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area back in 1976.  The murder of Lindy Sue Biechler was a shock to the quiet and  peaceful neighborhood near Amish country, and left a family devastated.  Did Lindy’s killer write the letter? We may never know. The writer attempted to open up a line of communication with the police, but they did not respond. I discovered this case while researching the Zodiac Killer, and was amazed at how much this letter read as if it was written by the Zodiac himself, including some of the very same spelling errors, words, and phrases. Most interesting of all was that the writer wanted his letter published in the “Friday paper,” just as Zodiac had requested when he first wrote to police in 1969. As I researched the case from the angle of determining if it might be a Zodiac murder, I soon realized that such a task might not be possible to complete; however, I quickly realized how fascinating the case was no matter whom the killer might turn out to be.

Lindy was a young wife and floral shop worker when she was murdered on December 5, 1975.  In the weeks leading up to her death, she reported to her family that she felt she was being stalked, and said that she had seen somebody peeking through the sliding glass doors of her apartment.  It became so unnerving for her that she did not want to be home alone. On the night of her murder, she ran errands and returned to her apartment to wait for her husband to come home from work. She arrived home at about 7:15 pm, and carried some groceries into her apartment.  Some relatives decided to go over and sit with her until her husband came home from work, and arrived at her apartment at about 8:40 pm. They couldn’t possibly be prepared for what awaited them.

When they entered the apartment, they discovered Lindy’s lifeless body on her kitchen floor. She had been stabbed several times, and there was a knife still embedded in her neck. Investigators would discover that the knife in Lindy’s neck was a knife that belonged to her from her own kitchen, but that a second knife was used in the attack as well, one that was not found at the crime scene and presumably was brought to and from the scene by her killer. Although police believed the attack was sexual in nature, there was no evidence of rape, or robbery. Police were quickly stumped. They had no real strong suspects at the time, and the case would quickly go cold. Until about a year later.

Continue reading “Murder in Amish Country; the case of Lindy Sue Biechler”

A Monster in Fort Wayne; The Murder of April Marie Tinsley

A Monster in Fort Wayne, The Murder of April Marie Tinsley

 

Finding the right words for this post proved to be difficult. It’s hard not to feel a connection to people you write about, or to feel sorry for what happened to them, but researching and writing about the abduction, rape, and murder of April Marie Tinsley, took me to a place I don’t go to often.

April Marie Tinsley was a happy eight year old girl living in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1988.  On Friday, April 1st of that year- both April Fool’s Day, and Good Friday, April was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house. What followed the abduction was heartache for her family, evidence of a sick and twisted monster responsible for her abduction, and a trail of taunting clues that would frustrate Investigators for years, and leave Fort Wayne in fear.

Immediately after her abduction, nearly a hundred police and residents searched in vain hoping to find any sign of April. They did not find her, but a major lead surfaced. A witness reported seeing a man in a light blue pickup truck pull April inside it.

Three days later, on April 4th, April’s body was found by a jogger in a ditch about twenty miles from where she was abducted. Although she was clothed, an autopsy would show that the little girl had been raped and suffocated.  Not far from the body, police discovered a sex toy.

Investigators found DNA that belonged to April’s killer. Despite the DNA, and the eye witness report, there were no arrests, and the case cooled off.

Two years later, in 1990 not far from where April’s body had been found, a teenage boy witnessed a man writing a message on a barn. The chilling message scrawled on the barn read, “I kill 8 year old April Marie Tisley I will kill again HaHa”. The writing looked like a child’s scrawl, and included misspellings. The teenage boy was not able to identify the man writing on the barn. It would take fourteen more years for the writer to make contact again, but he was not nearly finished with his taunts.

In spring of 2004, four handwritten notes turned up around Fort Wayne. These notes would be discovered in mailboxes and most shockingly of all, on bikes that belonged to little girls. The notes, all written on lined yellow paper, and with handwriting and misspellings that were similar to the previous barn writing, were left in plastic baggies, along with used condoms and Polaroid photos that partially showed the killer’s Body, and him masturbating. DNA collected from this new evidence, proved to be a match with the DNA of April’s Murderer. There was no doubt now, the sadistic writer was also April’s killer. One of the letters read as follows:

“Hi Honey I been watching you I am the same person that kidnapped and raped and killed April Tinsley. You are my next victim. If you don’t report this to police or I don’t see this in the paper tomorrow or on the local news or I will blow up your house”

This news once again sent area residents into a panic, with the realization that there may very well be a monster walking among them. After these letters were received the killer went silent and has not been heard from since.

Leads were followed up, and Suspects looked into, but no arrests were ever made. Despite the lack of an arrest, and the passage of almost 30 years, the killer left behind valuable clues that could one day help identify him.

There are the various writing samples.  There’s the sex toy that was found with April’s body.  There are the eye witness descriptions of the killer when he abducted April, and when he was seen writing on the barn. These eyewitness accounts have lead to rough sketches being produced of the killer. The Polaroids themselves may be a big clue to his identity. First off, Polaroid cameras were not widely used in 2004, so he likely owned one or borrowed one. The photos reveal that the killer was circumcised, and had hair on his legs. In at least one photo, there is clearly a distinct blue-green paisley-patterned bedspread.

Police believe that in 1988, the killer either owned or borrowed a light blue truck, and in 2004, owned or borrowed a green pickup truck with a matching camper shell that had dark tinted windows. The most important clue left behind by the killer was his DNA. This is one clue that will solidify a link between killer and Victim. In 2016, a cutting edge DNA technology was used to create a new composite sketch of what the Killer may very well look like based on his DNA.

Any murder is awful, but murder of a child is disgusting and unforgivable, and the levels of depravity in this case in particular, are especially nauseating. The pride he took in April’s rape and murder, and complete lack of remorse by this Killer, reminds us of the evil there is in this world. This monster still may be walking among the residents of Fort Wayne but it’s not too late to catch him, and bring closure to this case, and to April’s Family. My hope is that this post will be shared on social media, and that the associated photos and clues contained here, may be enough to make somebody come forward with a tip that solves this case. For April’s sake, and for the sake of the Children in Fort Wayne, let’s hope this case is one day solved, and that at least one Monster, can be taken off the streets.

If you have any tips or information about this case, please contact the Fort Wayne Police Department

Contact