Rachael Runyan: A commentary on justice denied

Rachael Runyan (Photo Received from Elaine Runyan)
Rachael Runyan (Photo Received from Elaine Runyan)

Rachael Runyan was a 3-year-old girl who was abducted from a park in Sunset, Utah on August 26, 1982 and then murdered shortly thereafter. Her body was found several weeks later. A few clues and promising leads have risen to the surface since that day.

Unfortunately, the person who was responsible for committing the crime has evaded capture. The Sunset Police Department is still searching for the clue that will give them what they need to make an arrest.

People have a tendency to treat crimes as if they are episodes in a television show. Once they have heard everything the authorities want them to know, they move on to the next news story, regardless of whether the case in question was solved.

Additional efforts to bring the old case back into the mainstream are met with a general feeling of apathy. The public often feels that if a case isn’t immediately solved, it’s never going to be solved. Sometimes they’re right, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Law enforcement does not have the resources to spend all their time on a single case when more cases are being opened everyday. Older cases slip further into the pile, waiting for something that will reignite interest in them.

When the public is not aware of a case, they lack the wherewithal to look for possible clues and ask questions. It’s not solely the responsibility of law enforcement to drum up publicity though. Members of the media could carry the torch and do what they can to solve this problem.

A crime that has gone unsolved is a human interest story in every sense of the world. Anytime someone is harmed, it sends shockwaves through the victim’s family, as well as the community in which the victim lived. The shockwaves continue to reverberate as long as the person remains missing and the crime is unsolved.

Tepid anniversary pieces don’t count. Marking the date when a crime happened without providing additional information or sending out a call to action rips open wounds that have never truly healed. Victims of crime and their families deserve more than that.

We should not accept the fact that families head forth into the future without knowing what happened to their loved one or dreading the idea that the person who harmed the person they love is still out there as if nothing ever happened.

Everyone needs to answer for their crimes. It doesn’t matter when these crimes were committed. They need to face justice and receive appropriate punishment. The idea that people can commit these horrific crimes and never face punishment for them is devastating.

Justice should have no expiration date. The justice system might not seem fair to some, but it’s one of the most important mechanisms we have. Catching a criminal is not going to bring someone’s loved one back. However, it will make sure that the criminal will pay for their crimes.

Also, effectively serving justice sends a message to others involved in criminal activity. It doesn’t matter how severe the punishments for crimes are if they aren’t being served.

The case of Rachael Runyan needs to end. 33 years is far too long for a family to wait for justice. Although it might seem like 33 years is an eternity, it’s not as long as you might think. Stories pass from one person to the next. Someone who was around then might have forgotten, but the person they told remembers it clear as a bell. A friend of a friend tells another friend of a friend, keeping the story alive in the process. A single person has the potential to solve a mystery, as long as they can find the courage within themselves to step forward and tell everything they know.

It just takes a single clue to break a case wide open. The time has come for that clue to be shaken out of the cobwebs of history.