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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

July 19, 2002
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Man Arrested in Slaying of Samantha Runnion

The Orange County Sheriff Dept. just announced that detectives arrested Alejandro Avila, a 27-year-old Lake Elsinore man, today at 9:55 AM in connection with the abduction and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

Samantha had been left naked and in a sexually provocative position according to the Orange County officials. Detectives believe the kidnapper held her for several hours, sexually assaulting and eventually asphyxiating Samantha sometime Tuesday. Officials suggested the girl fought back, scratching her attacker's face and arms. These circumstances lead Orange County authorities to issue a serial kidnapper warning to Southern CA Wednesday.

Detectives searched Avila's apartment, which is not far from where Samantha's body was discovered as well as at his mother's apartment and his workplace this morning. Police officers and forensic criminalists spent much of the morning collecting evidence at the three locations. They confiscated three cars, a computer, bedding, clothing, shoes, telephone bills, garbage bags and other items.

Officials said they've gathered physical evidence, including DNA samples, tiny fibers on Samantha, and tire tracks. They attribute the arrest to a tip from Avila's girlfriend that they received over a tip line system that they have in place. Over the last two days, officers stopped dozens of men in green cars, interviewed scores of convicted sex offenders and fielded more than 1,000 calls from across the United States.

Source: PoliceOne; OC Sheriff's Dept.






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