Brutal beatings leave two people dead and a third near death, Polk County Sheriff says

A manhunt in Davenport leads to the arrest of Shaun Runyon, who authorities say worked with the people he attacked.
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Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 2, 2021|Updated Oct. 3, 2021

Three people were brutally beaten in Polk County, leaving two dead, Sheriff Grady Judd said Saturday. The third victim is also not expected to survive.

Related: Sunday update: Third victim dies after angry co-worker’s rampage in Polk County

Judd said sheriff’s deputies arrested Shaun Runyon, 39, for the murders after a two-hour manhunt.

At a news briefing in Davenport, a community near Haines City, Judd outlined the series of events.

Runyon worked for a Pennsylvania electric company, J & B Electric, Inc., that had been doing work for Publix Supermarkets in Davenport. He and coworkers were living in the Davenport area, paid for by the company.

On Friday, at about 2 a.m., Runyan grew angry with his supervisor and punched him, Judd said. He then fled his work and was not seen for some time.

At 9:44 a.m. Saturday, the Polk County Sheriff’s office received a call about a murder.

According to Judd, Runyon had entered a Davenport residence where his supervisor and other coworkers were living. Seven people were home, Judd said, when Runyan barged in with a baseball bat and knife.

Runyan beat one victim to death while he slept, Judd said. He said Runyan severely beat another victim, who was taken to a local hospital but is not expected to survive.

Sheriff’s deputies found a third victim dead on the front porch of the house. A fourth victim was struck in the shoulder and the back with the baseball bat. Another man escaped with his wife and 7-year-old girl.

Runyon knew each victim, the sheriff said.

Deputies followed what they described as a blood trail left by Runyon until the trail went dead.

A little before noon on Saturday, Runyan showed up at a Lake Wales residence covered in blood, claiming he was raped, Judd said. The home he chose appears to be random, the sheriff said, and was not sure why Runyon fled to Lake Wales.

The people inside told Runyan to go to the hospital. Deputies rushed to Lake Wales hospital and took him into custody, uninjured.

The sheriff said Runyan’s motive for the violent crimes remains unclear. The Polk County Sheriff’s department did not release the names and ages of the victims.

It is unclear where Runyan is from. The sheriff noted that he has a criminal history in Pennsylvania. His last arrest was a violent crime involving strangulation, the sheriff said.

Later, the sheriff’s office released Runyon’s prior criminal history, which includes out of state charges for strangulation, child endangerment, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering, assault, various theft, charges, and driving under the influence.