DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) — An electrician accused of killing three co-workers on assignment in central Florida told detectives he did it because his colleagues had raped him, but a Florida sheriff on Monday said there was no evidence to support the claim.
Shaun Runyon, 39, confessed multiple times to the murders during interviews with detectives, telling them that the co-workers had raped him, and “he hated all three of them,” but a sexual battery test failed to confirm the allegation, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd during a news conference.
The sheriff used hand air quotes when saying the word “raped.”
“I want to underscore there is absolutely unequivocally zero evidence,” said Judd, whose county is located between Tampa and Orlando.
According to the sheriff, Runyon and his colleagues were in central Florida to perform work for a Bethlehem, Pa.-based electrical contractor that had been hired by the Publix grocery chain. Runyon’s half-brother owned the company.
Runyon got into an argument and punched his supervisor Friday morning after being told he wasn’t working fast enough, and his half-brother told him to return to Pennsylvania, the sheriff said.
Runyon was driving through southern Georgia on his way back when he heard a radio ad about a sale at a sporting good store and stopped at the store to purchase a crossbow. He then decided to drive back to central Florida. He parked his work truck at a Tampa airport, rented another vehicle and on Saturday morning he went to the rental house in Davenport where he had been living with seven colleagues and their family members, including the three co-workers he attacked, Judd said.
Deciding to use a baseball bat instead of the crossbow, Runyon first attacked the supervisor who was sleeping and later died at a hospital. He attacked a second colleague who was sleeping with the bat, and then went into a third bedroom to attack another co-worker, who fought back. Runyon pulled out a knife and stabbed the third colleague, who managed to run outside of the house before collapsing and dying on the front porch, Judd said.
Another colleague was hit in the back with the bat, but only once. Runyon then fled the house and drove about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south to the Lake Wales home of a Publix employee who had planned to hire Runyon to do tile work at his house. Runyon explained his bloodied condition to the Publix employee by saying he had been raped, and the Publix employee urged Runyon to go to a local hospital, which he did. The Publix employee then called the sheriff’s office, and deputies arrested Runyon at the hospital, the sheriff said.
Runyon was charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of aggravated battery over the weekend. An online docket showed no lawyer who could comment on the charges. Jail records showed that Runyon was ineligible for bond.
Runyon had been out on bail from other charges in Pennsylvania, including a felony count of strangulation — applying pressure to the throat — on May 21, along with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, terroristic threat and reckless endangerment, the sheriff said.