I have heard from several former students of Dean Runkle in the past few days and have connected them with Bay Village Police. These are students who volunteered their time to help Runkle take care of his animals and they knew him very well.
The most stunning allegation came this morning, when I was contacted by a former student who helped Dean Runkle from 1982 – 1987. He claims he drove with Runkle to the Nature Center in Bay Village so that Runkle could donate mice to feed the snakes. One of the reasons police have discounted Runkle’s involvement is because they can find no direct evidence of him being at the Nature Center, which is likely where Amy’s killer got her phone number and the numbers of the girls from North Olmsted. One FBI agent went so far as to say, “If he was at that Nature Center, then he almost has to be our guy but he says he wasn’t.”
Other allegations include:
– he was seen at the back of a study hall classroom, massaging a young girl’s neck. She appeared extremely uncomfortable.
– he gave a girl $100 to buy a new outfit.
– students say Runkle told them he would get in trouble if anyone knew they were in his car alone, or that he took them to his apartment, so he had one student wait by a side door he could pull up to, and then the student would run out to his car and hop in quickly.
– he often made very inappropriate sexual comments and jokes when he was alone with a student
– joked about keeping a woman tied up in the back room
This evidence is circumstantial but adds up to – at the very least – criminal behavior. Did Runkle have anything to do with Amy? I don’t know. But I do know he crossed the line. A handful of students now claim inappropriate physical contact. The police have seen love letters to prepubescent kids. And I believe this student who says he was at the Nature Center with him. These are all reasons he has been investigated as a suspect in the case. Make of it what you will. Journalists and bloggers are not judge or jury. But we have a responsibility to give a voice to victims.