Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 4:25 PM

For nearly 20 years, Rick Burns waited patiently for the police to return to his auto body shop across the street from the station to show him photos of the man he saw with Amy Mihaljevic the day of her abduction. But they never came.

Burns maintains that a strange man with shaggy hair parked a sedan in his personal space, closest to the Bay Square plaza, on October 27, 1989. He remembers the date because it was also the day he brought his newly restored truck to the shop to show off to his buddies and was miffed to find his spot was taken. Burns says the strange man later pulled around the shop, to the pumps, where he was standing. In the back seat was a young girl he believes to have been Amy Mihaljevic. The man asked Burns for directions to I-480 and then left.

Two days after Amy disappeared, FBI agents came to Burns’ shop and took all the receipts for the previous two months. They took his statement. And that was that. He never heard from them again.

Last week, at the request of Channel 5’s investigative reporter Duane Pohlman and this reporter from Scene, Burns reviewed a series of photographs of suspects and non-suspects. Without hesitation, Burns picked out former Amherst middle school science teacher Dean Runkle as the man he saw at his shop that day. In November, Scene identified Runkle as the prime suspect in this case after speaking to sources familiar with the investigation and with Runkle himself, who now manages a Wendy’s in Key West.

Bay Village police have so far downplayed this revelation, stating that Burns’ memory is not reliable. But Burns isn’t the only eyewitness to ID Runkle. A girl from Amy’s school saw Amy with her abductor that day. Recently, she was shown a lineup of thirty-some individuals. She, too, went right to Runkle’s picture. Later, she told Scene that his picture was so similar in appearance to the man from her nightmares that she wished the police would take a hard look at him. Following our coverage in November, the FBI did send an agent out to Florida to re-interview Runkle, but instead of sending someone intimately familiar with the case, they sent an agent from headquarters with little to no experience with the investigation. — James Renner

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation