Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dad charged with assault; was mad over dead duck (Brigham City, Utah)

Dad JEFFREY STEPHEN RUNYAN has been arrested for aggravated assault over a dead duck. Yes, I typed that correctly. See if you can follow the story below; it's pretty crazy. Seems Runyan is also facing charges of violating a protection order filed by his ex-wife, providing false charges to the police, and abusing his ex-girlfriend's child last March. And by the most interesting of coincidences, this guy's daughter was abducted in August 1982, only to show up dead a month later. Nobody was ever charged in her murder though.

Father of Rachael Runyan charged with assault
By Geoff Liesik

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 6:11 p.m. MST

BRIGHAM CITY — Prosecutors have filed charges against a Corinne, Box Elder County, man who allegedly drove his pickup truck into the side of a dairy office after becoming enraged over the death of a duck.

Jeffrey Stephen Runyan, 55, was charged Wednesday in 1st District Court with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor; and several other misdemeanor traffic offenses.

Runyan is the father of Rachael Runyan, who was 3 years old when she was abducted from a Davis County playground in August 1982. Her body was found near a creek bed in Morgan County nearly a month later. No one has ever been arrested in her death.

Jeffrey Runyan was arrested Dec. 22 after he drove his pickup truck into the office of the Tulieview Dairy, 2800 W. 3000 North, according to a Box Elder County sheriff's report.

Two men inside the office were uninjured, the report states. They told a deputy they exited the office after it was hit and asked Runyan "what his problem was."

"Jeff ranted for a bit, then told them if they wanted some he would give it to them and that he had the guns," the report states.

Based on the threat of a weapon and on past dealings with Runyan, deputies decided to take him into custody at gunpoint. He was found in a nearby field and arrested without incident. He was not armed.

Runyan was transported to a hospital as a precaution and began to "rant" again, the report states.

"Jeff was very upset, not about being arrested but for (the neighbors) running over his daughter's duck and killing it," the report states. "Jeff told me he had been up for days and that having the duck killed was basically the last straw, so he did something about it."

Runyan allegedly told deputies he'd gone to the dairy — which is owned by the neighbor he blamed for the duck's death — with the intention of doing "donuts" in its parking lot. When Runyan couldn't get the truck to spin, he said he rammed the dairy instead, according to the sheriff's report.

In an unrelated incident, Runyan was also charged Wednesday with two counts of violation of a protective order, a class A misdemeanor, and one count of providing false information to police, a class B misdemeanor.

The charges stem from a packet of "Wanted" posters and letters Runyan mailed out to various media outlets including the Deseret News earlier this month, said Brigham City Police Lt. Michael Nelsen. The documents accuse Runyan's ex-wife, a woman who is not Rachael Runyan's mother, of "child abuse and alienation of parental affection."

In addition to the state charges, Brigham City police have also referred the case to the city attorney for a possible criminal defamation charge based on the allegations made by Runyan against his ex-wife, Nelson said.

"He's definitely in need of some sort of help," Nelsen said. "He's definitely having a problem with coping with his life now. We are concerned."

Runyan is already facing two counts of child abuse, a class A misdemeanor, and one count of theft, a class B misdemeanor, based on allegations that he physically abused his 22-month-old son with a former girlfriend in March. Runyan has pleaded not guilty and asked to have the case moved out of Box Elder County.

No defense attorney is listed in any of Runyan's cases. He remains in the Box Elder County Jail.