By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Authorities in Georgia are searching for a suburban Atlanta couple missing since they traveled to the southern part of the state to buy a vintage car off Craigslist, and a suspect in the case may soon be in custody, a local sheriff said on Monday.
Bud Runion, 69, and his wife, June Runion, 66, of Marietta, were last seen on Thursday when they set off for Telfair County to buy a 1966 Mustang convertible from a purported seller who responded to their ad on Craigslist, Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson said.
The couple’s last telephone call was to a disposable cell phone owned by Ronnie Towns, 28, whom Steverson described as a suspect in the case.
Towns was interviewed by authorities shortly after the couple disappeared and has now been charged with criminal intent to commit deception and lying to investigators, Steverson said.
“We’re optimistic we’ll have him in custody soon,” Steverson said in a phone interview. “We’ve been communicating with his family.”
Towns did not own a 1966 Mustang convertible, the sheriff said.
“I don’t think he had a car that was even similar to the one being sought by Mr. Runion,” Steverson said.
Search teams looking for the couple are combing the rural county about 160 miles south of Atlanta using all-terrain vehicles, aircraft and boats, Steverson said. The 2003 GMC Envoy the Runions were driving has not been located, the sheriff added.
“We are hopeful that landowners and hunters would be on the lookout for anything out of the way, any articles of clothing, anything that may be connected to this case," he said.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Susan Heavey)