Samantha Bree Runnion was taken from outside her home in Stanton, California, and killed on July 15, 2002. She was five years old at the time. Soon after, her body was discovered along a country road, putting an end to the hunt. Predator at Large: Watch Your Children on Investigation Discovery details how DNA evidence helped the police identify Samantha’s killer. So, if you’re interested in learning more, we can help.
What happened to Samantha Runnion?
Not long before the incident, Erin Runnion and her partner Ken had relocated to Stanton, California. Erin had Samantha, age 5, while Ken had two kids from a previous relationship. All appeared to be well as the couple settled into a tranquil lifestyle in a condominium building. The young girl and her friend Sarah were playing outside on the day of the event. According to the program, Erin was in the gym on the evening of July 15, 2002, while her mother was keeping an eye on the kids.
Samantha was having fun with a friend in her front yard. when a man came up to them and asked for help looking for his lost dog. After a short talk, he grabbed Samantha, put her in his car against her will, and drove off. As soon as the grandma dialed 911, a thorough search was launched to find Samantha and her kidnapper. However, it tragically came to an end when her naked body was discovered the following day in a lonely region close to Lake Elsinore, California. Due to a head injury and stress to the neck, Samantha, who had been sexually raped, died. The body was discovered in a spread eagle stance, according to the program, indicating that the murderer may have staged the pose.
Who was Samantha Runnion’s killer?
While they were having fun, according to Sarah, a man approached on the pretense of needing assistance in finding his dog but instead abruptly snatched Samantha. The guy overpowered the young child while she kicked and screamed, placed her in his car, and then took off. Based on Sarah’s description, a composite sketch was created and posted online in the hopes that suggestions would come in. Finally, the 27-year-old Alejandro Avila was discovered by the authorities. He had a Lake Elsinore apartment with his sister Elvira at the time. His mother and two more sisters, Adelina and Adelita, also resided in the complex.
The police then learned that Alejandro had been accused of abusing two girls under the age of 14 in 2000 but had ultimately been cleared by a jury. His ex-daughter girlfriend was one of the kids he was accused of assault, and in the past, he had been seen around Samantha’s neighborhood frequently. Catherine, Lizbeth Veglahn’s daughter, claims that Alejandro once dated her and occasionally kept an eye on her while her mother was at work. She said that when she was 7 years old in 1997, Alejandro requested her to remove her clothes and even caressed and “kissed” her vagina. Additionally, Catherine said that he had once molested her cousin. She also said Alejandro was going to have her put test tubes in her vagina. Alejandro, according to Lizbeth, would view a lot of porn and didn’t seem to be interested in her sexually. The police subsequently detained Alejandro, who was then employed by a company that manufactured medical equipment.
Later, Elvira testified that her brother had informed her about visiting the beach the day Samantha was abducted and that he knew the location where the body was discovered. Additionally, the police discovered a laptop at Adelita’s house that was deleting child porn on it. When the authorities discovered Samantha’s DNA on Alejandro’s car door handles, they assumed it had been there because of her weeping. Additionally, his DNA matched that which was discovered under Samantha’s fingernails after she might have resisted him. Alejandro was captured on surveillance footage leaving a gas station wearing a certain pair of shoes that appeared to match the shoeprint close to the body. A pair like that, though, was not discovered in Alejandro’s possession.
Where is Alejandro Avila Today?
According to the episode, the police thought that Avila drove around for a while after the kidnapping and waited for it to get dark. After that, he took Samantha to the place where she was found and raped and killed her there. Based on information from his cell phone, Alejandro was traveling from Lake Elsinore to Stanton around the time Samantha was taken. He was found guilty of murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping in the end. During the hearing, Avila’s defense lawyer made the case that it was improbable for him to have abducted the child, abused her, murdered her, and then discarded her body 50 miles away as the prosecution claimed he did. After a jury found Avila guilty on May 16, 2005, he was given the death penalty. Now he is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.