READ AN UPDATE TO THE STORY: Rongey’s Body Identified
UPDATED 4:54 PM 08/18/22
Jesse Rongey is suspected to have shot and dismembered Stephen Munn on Munn’s property July 5. Munn’s remains were found five days later on his property near Youngstown Trail, where authorities suspect that Rongey was living in a shed, according to KTVO news.
Local authorities began a manhunt July 28 after a reported sighting of Rongey in the hiking trails of Thousand Hills. Since then, both the National Guard and the U.S. Marshals were involved with the search, using tools such as drones, helicopters, boats, K-9s and officers on foot.
With the semester right around the corner, many students and parents are worried about their safety. Sara Seifert, the chief of police on campus, advises parents and students to be cautious and aware of their surroundings and to avoid Thousand Hills.
“I don’t feel that it’s going to be a safety issue,” Seifert said, “He’s living off the land — I don’t think he’d venture this far into town.”
Seifert said the University plans to alert students to the issue and advise them to follow the local news.
Seifert said she isn’t concerned for student safety on campus at this time.
“There are 76 new cameras on campus that are recording, not monitored, 24/7,” Seifert said. “If you see something, say something.”
Students on and off campus concerned about recent criminal activity should avoid Thousand Hills and download the campus Guardian app, Seifert said. If students feel actively unsafe, they should call the campus escort services, as Kirksville isn’t immune to crime, Seifert said.
Seifert said she does not think campus life will be affected.
The U.S. Marshals are now offering up to $5,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Rongey, who is considered armed and dangerous.
“I can’t say that I feel particularly safe on campus,” sophomore Madison Backes said. “Recent events have made me wonder what Truman DPS and the University will do to keep us safe and let us know. I’m worried about the lack of communication about any of the recent insane crimes.”
Backes said she has felt safer in places like Columbia and Jefferson City than she has in Kirksville, and that lack of a sense of safety continues even while on campus.
“In the year I’ve been at Truman, bikes go missing all the time, cars are stolen out of dorm parking lots, and I feel like we have to just accept that this is just the way it is,” Backes said. “Campus police were constantly in the dorms. Every extended break, my music professors warned me to take everything out of my instrument locker because townies will come into the building and try to steal instruments.”
“I feel out of the loop and uninformed constantly,” Backes said. “I worry that my friends who have been gone for the summer will come back and be unaware of recent events.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated Jesse Rongey shot and dismembered Stephen Munn. The story has been corrected to state Jesse Rongey is suspected by law enforcement to have shot and dismembered Stephen Munn