Details of Disappearance
Bunton was last seen at a McDonald's restaurant on Kings Highway in Rolla, Missouri on December 15, 2021. She had been released from the Pulaski County Jail that day, and a Rolla Police Department detective dropped her off at the McDonald's.
She wasn't permitted to stay with family, but she told her mother she would contact a drug rehabilitation program to arrange housing. Instead of calling the rehab program, Bunton called a friend who picked her up at a gas station.
Her family never heard from her again. In spite of her drug abuse history, it's uncharacteristic of her to not contact her loved ones over the holidays. They reported her missing on January 6, 2022.
Authorities subsequently identified Edward D. Jones as the friend Bunton called to pick her up. When Bunton's mother contacted him, he said Bunton stayed with him in Rolla on the night of her disappearance, but left the next day without saying anything. He told the same story to police.
Later on the same day he made those statements, Jones's 2016 Kia Forte was searched during a traffic stop and 75 fentanyl capsules were found, leading to Jones's arrest on charges of drug trafficking. He was a meal delivery driver for DoorDash and admitted to selling drugs while making deliveries.
He said he and Bunton had both used fentanyl on the night of her disappearance and that another man, Kenneth Allen, was there. When questioned on January 12, Allen admitted to using fentanyl with Jones and Bunton, and said he woke up alone the next day and didn't know what happened to Bunton.
On January 25, Jones changed his story, saying the truth about what had happened was eating him alive. He said that after Bunton took fentanyl the night she was released from jail, he found her unconscious, with raspy breathing. He tried to revive her but couldn't, and eventually had to go to make DoorDash deliveries. When he returned, Bunton had stopped breathing.
Jones said upon finding her dead, he covered her body with a red and gray multicolored blanket and called Allen, who came to help him with a friend, Benjamin Graham. The three men loaded Bunton's body into Jones's Kia, drove to St. Louis, Missouri, and threw the body in a black dumpster in an urban alleyway. He could not recall where the dumpster was.
When confronted with Jones's story, Allen and Graham provided similar stories. Allen said he thought the dumpster was green and somewhere near a Schnuck's grocery store in the vicinity of the intersection of Interstates 170 and 270. Graham said he thought the dumpster was near a big park, housing units and a car lot or auto repair shop. He said Jones kept the blanket Bunton's body was wrapped in, and covered her body with a plastic drop cloth after putting it in the dumpster.
Authorities found some evidence to support the men's stories about Bunton's death and the disposal of her body. Cellular phone records show Jones and Allen's phones were taken to St. Louis and then returned to Rolla on December 15. Strands of light brown hair, color-treated with reddish-brown dye, were found on the black carpet in the trunk of Jones's Kia, and a multicolored blanket was also found.
Jones died of a fentanyl overdose in April 2022. Allen and Graham were not charged with anything for their role in helping dispose of Bunton's body, and both men are currently incarcerated on unrelated drug charges. Photos of all three men are posted with this case summary.
Authorities stated it was unlikely that charges would be filed against anyone in Bunton's death. Her body has never been located.