Thursday, November 29, 2018

"A.M. Was Murdered Here."

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a person who moved into a rental property in Wayne County, Ohio. While cleaning inside a closet, they discovered that years ago someone had carved a message into the wall. It reads, "A.M. Was Murdered Here."

Of course they assumed this meant Amy Mihaljevic - Wayne County is not far from Ashland. So, it suddenly became of great interest to authorities, and everyone was trying to figure out who lived there in 1989.

The house, itself, sits at a rural crossroads in Orrville and is owned by Stoll Farms. I drove down there last week (puppy in the passenger seat) and spoke to farmers with Stoll and other farms in the area who have roots going back 100 years. I was given the name of a man who they believed lived there with his wife and son in 1989. I managed to track him down to a farm in Kentucky. I spoke to his wife, at length, and learned a few things.

First, this seems like a real, decent family and nobody appears to have a criminal history. They have no idea who would have carved something like that in the closet and don't remember seeing it. But they recall that they were not actually there in the fall of 1989. They believe a farmhand employee of Stoll Farms was living there. The woman could not remember the name.

Finally, I visited the Stolls themselves. A Bay Village police officer had visited them and they were reluctant to say much, other than it appears nobody can 100% recall who it was who lived there.

Mike Lewis at Confidential Investigations, a private eye in Cleveland, ran a background check of the address itself. Nearly 40 different people have leased the house in the last 40 years. Perhaps the name of the person who carved the message is on there, but none of the names are familiar to me.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Call for Info

I am interested in seeing any photograph of Dean Runkle at the Nature Center in Bay Village or any proof that he sent students there for extra credit. So this is a call to former students in Amherst and Vermilion. Please go through your old photographs and documents from school. If you find anything please share it.

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Photo Album

Here are a few pictures I can share of the photo album found in the back of Dean Runkle's storage shed after it was sold at auction. (Click to embiggen)

First up, a photo from his classroom (taken after 1989) that seems to show a handmade narrow curtain separating a storage area in his classroom. (The curtain is red, in the doorway to the left, behind the hanging green Christmas thing. It has hoops up top.)

Next is a couple photographs taken of a ragtime piano musician (exact location and date, unknown - can anyone figure it out?) It could be Disneyland during the time Runkle played piano there from 1971 - 1973. Though he also played piano at Cedar Point, later.

Here is a photograph of Runkle in the car he was driving in 1989. There were several fibers from a  car found on Amy's body. They matched to a bronze/nutmeg colored car.

Finally, here is the very last photo that appears in Runkle's album.
I was contacted today by a person who appeared in this final photograph with Runkle. He says the entire photo album was compiled by his mother, who was a friend of Dean's, and given to him as a gift and that the captions were included by her as well.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Three Dead Girls and Dean Runkle

I want to tell you about three girls who died young.

The first girl, Dianna Runkle, died at age six of polio. Her twin, Dean Runkle, survived. According to family members, his mother was quite abusive and would tell him she wished it had been him.

The second girl, Linda O'Keefe, was abducted from Corona Del Mar, California, in 1973. Her body was found among cattails near a Nature Center in Newport Beach. Her passion was the piano. From 1971 - 1973, Dean Runkle played ragtime piano at Disneyland.

Here is a genetic snapshot of Linda's suspected killer based on genetic markers found in DNA.

Runkle returned to Ohio in 1973 to teach in Vermilion and Amherst. He would later get caught sending love letters to a prepubescent boy. He was investigated twice for touching students at Amherst before he quit teaching one year before his full pension would kick in.
The third girl you know. Amy Mihaljevic was abducted from Bay Village, in 1989. A witness was shown a spread of 27-30 mugshots. She pointed directly to Dean Runkle. At least a dozen former students say Dean was very familiar with the Nature Center in Bay Village, where Amy and other girls who her killed called, visited.

Special thanks to NaptimeNancyDrew, who found Linda's story. Check her out on Twitter.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Vermilion Police Withhold Evidence in Amy Mihaljevic Case **UPDATED**

For the last 10 years, Vermilion Police and Chief Chris Hartung, have refused to release the name of the man who attempted to abduct 2 women in Vermilion in 1984. I believe these attempted abductions are related in some way to the Amy Mihaljevic case for a couple reasons. 1. The man was driving a car that matches the description of the vehicle Amy's body was kept in. 2. It's a similar crime. 3. The abductor mentions a suspect in the Amy Mihaljevic case by name - Dean Runkle.

Both Chief Hartung and Dean Runkle know the name of this individual and have never shared it. In fact, Vermilion police refuse to provide the name of the suspect to other members of law enforcement, including detectives and retired FBI.

There are enough clues in the reports, though, perhaps someone out there can figure out who this person is. Please share. Please take a long look. Ask you parents. Who is this person and what was their relationship to Dean Runkle?

Less than an hour and one of my readers seems to have already identified the man. I am trying to verify. When I do, I will share the name.
**UPDATE 2**
There's a name on here, Tresp. I always figured it was short for "trespassing." Turns out it was the last name of the suspect. Meet Jerry Tresp, who was arrested in 1985 for attempted rape and attempted murder. He appears to have been incarcerated in 1989, during Amy's abduction. He is now a free man. I hope to speak to him soon about Dean Runkle.

Thank you to my Irregulars who figured out in 15 minutes what I couldn't crack in 10 years.

A special thank you to Cindy Jahnsz for links to the articles!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Dean Runkle's Photo Album

I'm going to present the facts as they happened yesterday, without agenda or slant. You can tell me what you think it amounts to.

A little background: 10 years ago I learned the name of a man who some FBI agents viewed as the "prime suspect" in the Amy Mihaljevic case. His name was Dean Runkle and he was a former teacher from Vermilion and Amherst, Ohio. There was a number of reasons he was interesting to investigators, including but not limited to:

- A witness picked him out of a lineup of 30 photographs
- A girl in his class got a phone call at home that said, "You're going to end up like Amy Mihaljevic"
- There was an attempted abduction in Vermilion during which the woman's attacker tried to force her into a car after explaining that he was a friend of Dean Runkle's
- He gave mice to the Nature Center in Bay Village, where Amy visited (and lied about being there)
- He lived a mile from where Amy's body was found in Ashland County
- He had inappropriate relationship with a 5th grader in Vermilion
- He drove a vehicle that matches the type of vehicle in which Amy's body was transferred
- 29 years into his teaching career he quit and disappeared. Several months later he turns up in a Key West homeless shelter

It's all circumstantial, every bit of it. And he could just be the unluckiest man in all of this.

I learned Runkle kept a storage locker in Vermilion and that the FBI once searched it in the middle of the night, sometime around 2005. I made a deal with the manager to let me buy everything inside in the event Runkle stopped paying on it. I have been patiently waiting since then.

Yesterday I was contacted by the two people who bought the unit after Runkle stopped paying on it. Turns out the manager I spoke to had since left the job. They wanted me to see a photo album they found in a box at the back of the unit. Luckily they took pictures of the pages before they turned it over to police. A week or two after Bay Village got the album, they held a press conference to release the information about the strange, hand-sewn curtain they found near Amy's body.

Last night, Bill Huffman (who runs the podcast), and I sat down with these people in Vermilion and went through the photographs. It appears to tell a story.

The first several pages are photographs of Runkle's classroom, taken sometime around 2005. His classroom was a kind of small zoo, with dozens of aquariums containing snakes and fish and all kinds of critters. After this, there are photographs and items from his earlier life. There's a photograph in his tan car, taken around the time he disappeared from 1987 - 1989 to wander the country for a bit. During that time he performed as a ragtime piano player at Cedar Point.

Side note - Runkle also played ragtime piano at Disneyland in California from 1971 - 1973.

Also in this album was reference to Lutheran Hospital on W 25th in Cleveland, a mental health facility.

Then there were more photos of his classroom taken after 1989. These showed an alcove or separate room off his science room that he kept separated by what appears to be a handmade curtain of the same shape and size as the curtain found near Amy's body, though a different color. This curtain, too, had hoops on top to slide a bar through. There are photographs of a single, young boy in his classroom who I cannot identify. There are handwritten captions throughout as well.

Finally, the album ends with a photograph of Dean Runkle in what appears to be the Cleveland MetroParks Rain Forest, which opened in 1992. He is standing beside a couple. The caption reads: "I am the one you've been looking for."

I can make no sense of that caption.

My question is, who is the intended audience of this photo album? There are private things in there. If it was for Runkle, himself, why did he leave it behind? Was it intended to be found when the unit sold?

I hope to show pictures, eventually.

I don't know what Runkle is responsible for. I know for a fact he crossed the line with at least one student and was investigated twice more before he left Vermilion. I am very interested to know the identity of the man who tried to abduct the woman from Vermilion, who mentioned Runkle during the attack - but Vermilion PD refuse to release the name.

For their part, the Bay Village police are actively trying to get answers from DNA that might finally tell us once and for all. They have several hairs found on Amy's body that are being tested. The new techniques of using DNA to identify family members of suspects may tell us who the killer is. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 28, 2018