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Man facing death in Craigslist slaying of Marietta couple appears in court

Ronnie “Jay” Towns of Telfair County was 28 when authorities say he lured a Marietta couple to their deaths by posting a fake car ad on Craigslist.
Ronnie “Jay” Towns of Telfair County was 28 when authorities say he lured a Marietta couple to their deaths by posting a fake car ad on Craigslist.

A Telfair County man facing the death penalty in the winter 2015 killing of a Marietta couple had a court hearing Thursday, according to The Telegraph in Macon.

The proceedings were mostly procedural and Ronnie “Jay” Towns, who turned 30 in November, only spoke once when asked a question by the Telfair judge, the newspaper reported.

Prosecutors allege that Towns lured 66-year-old June Runion and 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion to their deaths using Craigslist under the guise that he was going to sell them a vintage Ford Mustang.

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Authorities have said Towns was desperate for cash after losing his job at a tree-removal service weeks before the slayings, the newspaper reported.

Bud and June Runion, of Marietta, were reported missing before they were found dead.
Bud and June Runion, of Marietta, were reported missing before they were found dead.

The couple had lived in Marietta more than three decades. They were recent grandparents.

She'd been a second-grade teacher in Cobb County and was working as a preschool instructor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a daughter previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bud was retired from AT&T and would collect old bicycle parts, restore them and build new bikes that he would deliver to underprivileged children around the holidays.

He’d previously posted to Craigslist that he was looking for a 1966 Mustang, according to The Telegraph. That’s how Towns tricked them into heading to McRae-Helena.

Their bodies were found with gunshot wounds in their heads along a dirt road not far from where Towns’ parents lived on a 300-acre farm south of the area, the newspaper reported.

The case will likely go to trial next year.

Next door neighbor Tom Murphy remembers Bud and June Runion of Marietta. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Read our previous coverage of the slayings: