Woman charged with killing family friend appears in court

Photo: Amber Lea Runau

A 21-year-old Gassville woman charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a close family friend has undergone a psychological evaluation.

It was announced in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday that the evaluation of Amber Lea Runau was completed earlier this month.

The next step is for the court to receive a report from the examiner as to whether Runau is competent to stand trial, or to be held criminally responsible for her act.

Runau called 911 on Aug. 17 last year to report she had stabbed then 72-year-old Sharon Gayle Adler in the chest with a large kitchen knife.

Adler was reported to have not only been a family friend but to have been a babysitter for Runau and her older sister, Anna.



Photo: Anna Runau

Anna Runau is an inmate in the McPherson Unit of the state prison system in Newport. She is serving a 20-year sentence for attempted murder.

In May 2016, Anna Runau pled no contest to charges she lured a Salem man to Lake Norfork where she is reported to have stabbed him seven times. Authorities said Runau and a female juvenile accomplice planned to steal the man’s truck and drive to Indiana.

Amber Runau has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her stemming from Adler’s stabbing. She has been an inmate in the Baxter County jail since the incident, with bond set at one million dollars

When she called authorities, Amber Runau was reported to have said she became upset when she could not “fix” a picture frame and took her anger out on the elderly victim.

Runau remained on the phone with 911 and was told to leave the house located along Elm Street in Gassville and go out on the driveway to meet officers, which she did.

According to the probable cause affidavit, officers said she told them her story in a matter-of-fact tone. She was said to have described the events leading up to the stabbing and the stabbing itself.

She added one macabre detail, saying she had watched the victim’s eyes as she died.

When officers went into the home, they found the victim sitting in her recliner with the kitchen knife protruding from her upper left chest area.

Deputy Public Defender Sam Pasthing is representing Amber Runau.

All activity in the case has been put on hold, until the report on the psychological examination is received.

If the case is to be heard by a jury, it cannot be scheduled before May 1, according to the latest order from the Arkansas Supreme Court related to restrictions on the operations of lower courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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