Evil on The Road Part 4: Desmond Joseph Runstedler

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Evil on the Road is a 6-part series on people who vanished while hitchhiking. All articles will be published on Mondays until the series is complete. 

Desmond Joseph Runstedler was young, attractive, and by no means ready to settle down. 

He lived in a rented farmhouse about three kilometers east of Lougheed, Alberta, a village about 185 kilometers southeast of Edmonton. He was either 27 or 29 years old. The Doe Network says he was 27, while the Edmonton Journal reports 29.

He worked at the Lougheed Hotel and often hung out with Lougheed’s party crowd, drinking and doing drugs.

There is very little information on Desmond’s case, for whatever reasons. 

Here’s what we do know.

On the night of May 23, 1983, Desmond was partying with campers at a local campground near Lougheed. The Doe Network says he left a wedding dance and was last seen hitchhiking on Highway 13, presumably on his way home. 

Desmond vanished and has not been seen since.

He was not reported missing until Jan. 10, 1984, after a worker at the Lougheed post office became concerned over his evergrowing pile of mail and contacted Desmond’s parents in Ottawa.

Police searched through Desmond’s bank accounts, credit cards, telephone records, immigration, motor vehicle branch, social services, and unemployment insurance records but found nothing. 

Desmond had a couple of roommates, but one of them moved out two months before he disappeared.

There have been several theories on Desmond’s fate.

The night he vanished, the temperature was 33 F. Police thought Desmond might have failed to hitch a ride and attempted to walk home intoxicated and died from hypothermia. However, the RCMP brought in a dog unit to search the fields and woods. They found no trace of Desmond. A search of the man’s home produced no clues either.

Some locals believe that Desmond owed someone money, could not pay, and was killed. 

“One interesting one [theory] is from a guy who lives in Lougheed. He feels Runstedler was hit by a drunk driver, and the drunk driver picked up the body, drove it away, and disposed of it somewhere. Now, he has no basis for that, it’s just what he thinks.”

RCMP Const. Sandy McKechnie, Edmonton Journal, Jan. 5, 2006.

Around 2005, McKechnie had an age-progression created of Desmond to age 50 and made a public appeal. He followed up on a couple of tips that came in shortly after, but they were dead ends. There have been no further age-progressions. Desmond would now be in his late 60s.

Anyone with information on Desmond Runstedler’s disappearance is asked to contact Killam/Forestburg RCMP at 780-385-3509 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You may also leave an anonymous tip online at p3tips.com

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

This one is a short article, so that I could post it tonight on schedule. This case needs attention!

So, Desmond’s parents did not hear from him from May 1983 until Jan. 1984 and never thought that was strange? It took a post office worker to notice something was wrong?? My kids are around the age Desmond was when he vanished – 29 and 26. I would never go that long without speaking to them, especially if they lived clear across the country. So, if I don’t hear from them for a week or two, I call or text them. It’s not unusual for them to go that long because both are busy with jobs and families. I don’t know; I find that strange.

What about his roommate? Didn’t he wonder why Desmond never came home? Why didn’t he call the police? I find that strange as well. 

How about these campers he partied with on the night he disappeared? Who were they? Did the police interview them? Who last saw him hitchhiking on Highway 13? 

What about his coworkers? Why is there barely any info on Desmond’s disappearance? The only news article I found was from 2006. 

Lougheed is super tiny. People there know what happened to him. 

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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