Suspect charged with murder of missing Georgia couple

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Missing Craigslist Couple Killed
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Suspect charged with murder of missing Georgia couple
This photo combination of images provided Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, by the Cobb County Police Department, shows June Runion, of Marietta, Ga., and her husband, Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Cobb County Police Department)
Family members say the elderly Georgia couple went missing last Thursday after traveling to check out a car they found on Craigslist.
Jason Hoffman, left, places flowers at a makeshift memorial with his daughters Jaycee, 9, center, and Nolene, 11, outside the home of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Matthew Franden, 10, stands at a makeshift memorial outside the home of his neighbors Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, as an American flag flies at half-staff, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Neighbors gather as they stand across the street from the home of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, where an American flag flies at half-staff, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Judith Hine, holding her dog Heidi, embraces neighbor Dee Cox, right, as they stand across the street from the home of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. "This is a close knit community," says Hine. "We all watch out for each other." (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Vietnam veteran R.C. Franden places an American flag by the mailbox belonging to fellow Vietnam veteran and neighbor Elrey "Bud" Runion, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the 69-year-old Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. "He was a heck of a guy, just salt of the earth," says Franden about his neighbor Bud. "It's horrible, he didn't deserve it." (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A message reading "Bud and June" sits power washed in the driveway of the home of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, as an American flag flies at half-staff, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. Neighbors say Elrey had written the message for his wife on their anniversary last July while power washing the driveway. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Jason Hoffman, center rear, looks on as his daughters Jaycee, 9, left, and Nolene, 11, place flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the home of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Marietta, Ga. Authorities have positively identified two bodies as those of the Runions, who disappeared after driving three hours away to buy a classic auto, and the suspect already in custody has been charged with murder and armed robbery. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
This photo provided Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, by the Cobb County Police Department, shows June Runion, of Marietta, Ga. Runion, 66, and her husband Elrey “Bud” Runion, 69, are missing after driving across the state to check out a classic car advertised on Craigslist, and police say the man who last had phone contact with them faces charges. Investigators have obtained warrants for 28-year-old Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns on charges of giving false statements and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception. Towns hasn't been accused of harming the couple. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Cobb County Police Department)
This photo provided Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, by the Cobb County Police Department, shows Elrey "Bud" Runion, of Marietta, Ga. Runion, 69, and his wife June Runion, 66, are missing after driving across the state to check out a classic car advertised on Craigslist, and police say the man who last had phone contact with them faces charges. Investigators have obtained warrants for 28-year-old Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns on charges of giving false statements and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception. Towns hasn't been accused of harming the couple. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Cobb County Police Department)
Ronnie "Jay" Towns wanted in the case of missing Bud & June Runion of Cobb County. http://t.co/6ssTj8Qb3G http://t.co/BndxatIE2H
Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook
Credit: Facebook
Bud and June Runion were likely murdered- their family's surprising message to the suspect on #AtlantaAlive at 5 http://t.co/HkNQfqgX6u
Car the couple Bud and June Runion took to Telfair Co. pulled from pond now taken to lab for processing. @cbs46 http://t.co/XhuAhAKAXo
In Telfair County where crews are searching for June and Bud Runion who have been missing since Thursday. http://t.co/Krp1BenJ8x
Telfair Co. Volunteers work to locate clues in the search for Cobb County couple Bud and June Runion @FOX5Atlanta http://t.co/vOCL3qxcQK
Please read this and RETWEET: missing couple Bud and June Runion, missing after going to look at car on Craigslist http://t.co/fdjC9eJK5X
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McRAE, Ga. (AP) -- A man answering a Craigslist ad from a couple who wanted to buy a 1966 Mustang robbed, shot and killed the husband and wife when they traveled several hours to buy the classic car, a sheriff said Tuesday.

The bodies of 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his 66-year-old wife, June Runion of Marietta, Georgia, were found Monday not far from where their SUV was discovered in a lake near McRae, Georgia, a small farming community of 5,700. Authorities had sent the bodies to a crime lab to confirm their identities. They had been shot to death, said Telfair County Sheriff Sheriff Chris Steverson.

The Runions' had been reported missing on Thursday by their daughters after they failed to show up to babysit their grandchildren.

Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns, 28, of McRae, the suspect who was already in custody on charges of attempting to rob the couple, has been charged with malice murder and armed robbery, Steverson said.

Steverson said robbery does appear to be the motive for the couple's killings, but he would not say whether the Runions were carrying cash or disclose other details about the case. On Monday, he said investigators had found no evidence that Towns owned the sort of classic car Runion was seeking.

Residents of McRae, a tiny city about 80 miles southeast of Macon, were stunned, trying to understand what happened to a young man who was known as a "very smart" and "good kid."

"This community feels betrayed," Steverson said. "For an individual who was raised in this community to have orchestrated such a heinous act, we are very upset to say the least."

Before Towns had been charged with their deaths, the sheriff had said a cellphone used to make the last known contact with the Runions had been traced to Towns, who turned himself in Monday accompanied by family members.

As of Tuesday, he remained the only suspect, said Jimmy Johnson, chief deputy at the sheriff's office.

The arrest also shocked Towns' family. He grew up on a farm beside a long dirt road where his father grew soybeans, cotton and peanuts. The property isn't far from where the bodies were found.

Towns lived in neighboring Wheeler County with his family - a wife and a young daughter whom he supported by doing construction work for a local homebuilder, said his uncle, Buddy Towns.

"He's a good kid, and very smart," said the uncle, who often saw his nephew's truck pass his McRae business as Jay Towns headed to work. "It just doesn't make any sense why this would even go down. It's hard for his parents. They're not understanding."

Much remained unknown about what happened to the Runions from the time the couple left home Thursday until authorities found their SUV Monday. The sheriff has said he planned to keep some details of the case under wraps until it goes to court.

"Our hearts really go out to the Runion family," Buddy Towns said. "We'd just like to let them know there are not all bad people in the world."

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