Man charged with murder investigated in second woman’s death

A local mom was killed, and her family is speaking out. We first told you about police arresting Christopher Smith, who’s accused of attacking Rhonda Runyon, last week. He was charged with assault at the time. She died over the weekend from her injuries.

Now, Smith’s charge has been upgraded to murder, and he faces the death penalty. Her family said, seeing him in court Monday morning, it’s only a little reassuring seeing him in cuffs.

Her family remembers Rhonda Runyon as a people person and a loving mother. Her ex-husband, Chris Runyon, says: “She loved the boys more than anything in the world.”

Father-in law Roger Runyon and ex-husband Chris Runyon say, when they saw the man accused of attacking her in court Monday they were glad to see him face the steepest charge. “I got to see who done it," Roger says.

But they say it doesn’t help the fact they still lost someone who was family. “It just hurts the worse that she’s gone," Chris says.

Rhonda was beaten to death inside a home on Marigold Drive, and Sheriff Sam Steger says the nature of the attack was personal. Steger says the two knew each other, but it’s what his deputies recovered as suspected weapons that makes the attack so brutal.

“It looks like he used a horseshoe and a baseball bat there," Steger says. "Again, that’s a personal crime. You’re up close and personal.”

But that’s not how Roger and Chris want to remember Rhonda. It’s the smiles in family pictures they have to hold onto.

The family is now moving on to making funeral arrangements. Rhonda’s body is being cremated in Nashville. Her family will hold a visitation sometime next week. For those who do want to donate to help with costs and the three sons she left behind, you can donate in Rhonda’s name at the Imes funeral home in Murray.

This isn’t the only case Smith is accused of being involved with. He may be linked to a second woman’s death.

We told you about a deadly fire on Beane Road in Calloway County in April. Police found a woman dead inside. They identified her as Heather Rogers. Police say she died from an overdose, not from injuries from the fire.

Steger said Smith was her live-in boyfriend, but he ran away from police that morning when the home caught fire. Steger told me they charged him with public intoxication the next morning, but they’re still waiting for more test results on evidence.

"We’re basically waiting on some arson stuff to see if the fire was actually arson or it started by other means," Steger says. 

Steger emphasized to me they do not want to jump to conclusions, and they are waiting for evidence to come back before pressing any charges.

Smith will be back in court next month. His bond is set at $1 million.

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