Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


We, the comrades of Unit 1012, will honor and remember Samantha Runnion every year on July 26 and July 15. We, the comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, will make her one of The 82 murdered children of Unit 1012, where we will not forget her. Let us remember how she lived and not how she died.

In loving memory of her, we will post information about her from Wikipedia and also endorse the Joyful Child Foundation. We felt for her family, as the same way we felt for Marc Klaas.

We thank God that Proposition 34 was defeated, if not, the public will not be satisfied. One of the Seven Good Judges, the Lord Chief Justice Rayner Goddard once said in a speech in the House of Lords on April 28, 1948:

“There is one other consideration which I believe should never be overlooked. If the criminal law of this country is to be respected, it must be in accordance with public opinion, and public opinion must support it. That goes very nearly to the root of this question of capital punishment. I cannot believe or the public opinion (or would I rather call it the public conscience) of this country will tolerate that persons who deliberately condemn others to painful and, it may be, lingering deaths should be allow to live…”


Samantha Runnion

Samantha Runnion
Samantha Bree Runnion
July 26, 1996
Boston, Massachusetts
July 15, 2002 (aged 5)
Stanton, California
Cause of death
United States
Known for
Murder victim
Derek Jackson (father)
Erin Runnion (mother)

Samantha Bree Runnion (July 26, 1996 – July 15, 2002) was a five-year-old American murder victim. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 26, 1996, and her family were residents of Stanton, California.

Kidnapping and murder

Samantha Runnion was abducted from her front yard on July 15, 2002 by a man who told her he had lost his dog and needed help finding it. The incident happened in full view of her friend Sarah Ahn, who was able to describe in detail to police the kidnapper's appearance and the car he was driving. A day later, her nude body was found by a passerby in Cleveland National Forest 50 miles to the south. An autopsy found that she was sexually assaulted and had died of manual asphyxiation. As she had fought her attacker, a sample of his DNA was found under her fingernail. Police described the killer as "extremely sloppy" and that he had left behind "mountains of physical evidence connecting him to the crime".

The suspect, a Lake Elsinore, California, man named Alejandro Avila, was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances in May 2005. His DNA was found on Samantha's body, and her DNA was found in his car. He was arrested three days after the abduction. Avila had previously been to the condominium complex where Samantha lived, because his ex-girlfriend resided there: he had been previously acquitted of molesting her daughter and niece. On May 16, 2005, the jury returned a verdict of death. On July 22, Avila was formally sentenced to death. He is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison on death row.

Among other evidence, police reported finding child pornography on Avila's laptop computer and an examination of his credit cards showed that he had used them to book a motel room on the day of the murder, where it was believed that Samantha was killed. Avila's public defender argued during the trial that it was impossible for him to have kidnapped the girl, abused, murdered, and then dumped her body 50 miles away in the course of one day as the prosecution believed.

Her kidnapping and murder occurred during the trial in San Diego of David Westerfield, accused of the kidnapping and murder of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam. This led to fears that Samantha's case could affect Westerfield's trial, as media coverage about Samantha was heavy. The judge in the Westerfield case told the jury, which was not sequestered, not to read or watch any news reports about Samantha, but added that Samantha's case was not similar in any way to Danielle’s.

Joyful Child Foundation

The Joyful Child Foundation was established in her memory. The Joyful Child Foundation—In Memory of Samantha Runnion (TJCF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 after the abduction, molestation and murder of five-year-old Samantha Runnion. TJCF is dedicated to raising awareness about child sexual abuse and abduction while facilitating proactive community organizing to give everyone an opportunity to participate in the national movement to stop violent sexual crimes against children.

The Joyful Child Foundation was established in 2002 by the Runnion family after the sexual assault and murder of five-year-old Samantha Runnion in 2002. Its first initiative was "Samantha's Pride" which aims to facilitate the establishment of child watch programs in communities across the US. As at the end of 2004, 51 programs had been established concentrated in the Orange County, California area of southern California. The California Conservatory of the Arts sponsored a group called the Kids Next Door who recorded a fundraising Christmas album at the end of 2004 with funds going to the Joyful Child Foundation.

In addition to funding the "Samantha's Pride" initiative, the Joyful Child Foundation will use donations to

·         fund children's creative writing and artistic programs; and
·         fund nonprofit organisations that seek to prevent child abuse and abduction; and
·         research into predator behaviour and recidivism.

State high court upholds death penalty for Samantha Runnion's killer

By Veronica Rocha

The California Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of abducting 5-year-old Samantha Runnion from a Stanton condominium in 2002 and killing her.

Alejandro Avila was sentenced to death in 2005 for Samantha's death, which became a high-profile case and led to the implementation of a statewide Amber Alert program.

But Avila appealed his verdict to the state high court, claiming that he received an unfair trial and that the court made several errors, including denying a change of venue for the highly publicized case.

The court, however, disagreed. In a ruling issued Monday, the justices wrote that Avila's verdict was not biased and that evidence presented during trial strongly supported his conviction and sentence.

"The crime of this case, kidnapping and then brutally killing a 5-year-old child for sexual enjoyment, was truly appalling. And the defendant was solely responsible for that crime," the court wrote.

The ruling was written by Justice Ming W. Chin. There was no dissenting opinion. 

Samantha was kidnapped on July 15, 2002, while she was playing with a friend. Her naked body was discovered the next day in a remote area near Lake Elsinore. An autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted.

Her kidnapping and murder drew national media attention after then-President George W. Bush praised former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona for Avila's arrest.

Samantha's mother, Erin Runnion, became an advocate for protecting children against sexual abuse and established a nonprofit organization, the Joyful Child Foundation, in her daughter's memory.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement Monday that he was pleased by court’s ruling.

“For the heinous crime he committed against Samantha Runnion, the only appropriate punishment is death, although it still falls far short of justice,” Rackauckas said. “I can only imagine the sorrow that Erin Runnion feels every day of her life. She didn't get to see Samantha go to prom, graduate from high school, and go off to college this year.”

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