Suspect identified in case of missing Cobb Co. couple

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Deputies are searching for the man they believe last saw a missing grandmother and grandfather from Cobb County.

Bud Runion, 69, and June Runion, 66, of Marietta were last seen Thursday. They were leaving for Telfair County, south of Macon, to buy a car they found listed on Craigslist.

Bud Runion was going to buy a 1966 Ford Mustang, which the couple’s daughters told Channel 2’s Liz Artz their father had always wanted.

Investigators in South Georgia want to find 28-year-old Ronnie “Jay” Towns. Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that Towns was named as a suspect Sunday.

Steverson says there are two active warrants out for Towns. One warrant is for making false statements to investigators and the other for criminal attempt to commit theft by deception, Steverson said. The warrants were issued Sunday, after sheriff’s officials say they interviewed Towns in the case.

They say he was the last person to talk to the couple, via phone, before they disappeared.

He would not say whether it was an incoming or outgoing call.

Police say the couple left their Marietta home Thursday at about 2 p.m. They were last seen driving a 2003 champagne-colored GMC Envoy.

Channel 2’s Liz Artz spoke to the couple’s daughters, who became worried when their parents did not show up to babysit their grandchildren on Friday.

“We are worried that someone might have done something bad and taken advantage of them," daughter Brittany Patterson said.

“If someone has taken them, we have forgiven that person, because God tells us to love and forgive,” daughter Virgina Owens said.

The couple’s daughters held back tears as they talked about their last conversation with their parents.

“He was excited about the car. He had one when he got back from Vietnam,” daughter Stephanie Bishop said.

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Runion is a Vietnam War veteran, his daughters told Artz.

They say the couple left with their cell phones and chargers, but that no one has heard from them since 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The couple's daughters started the "Find Bud and June Runion" Facebook page and are asking that everyone share it.

“We need it to go beyond Marietta, Georgia, Kennesaw. We need it to reach South Georgia, possibly Florida,” Patterson said.

Artz sat down with the couple’s daughters for a second time Sunday, and they said they were encouraged by the new developments in the case.

“It’s not a dead end. You know there is still a trail," daughter Stephanie Bishop said.

Investigators sent Channel 2 Action News photos of a frantic search going on about 180 miles from the couple's Marietta home.

A massive search for the couple resumed Sunday morning in Telfair County. Several agencies are taking part in the search efforts. Law enforcement efforts have been split, between those searching for the couple and those looking for Towns.

“Please let us know where Bud and June are,” pleaded Bruce Allen, the Runions’ Sunday school teacher.  “They’re two of the finest people you'll ever meet.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Bud and June Runion, or suspect Ronnie Towns, is asked to call Cobb County Police at 770-499-3900.

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