Fifteen years after the mysterious killing of a Kennecott security guard, a man will finally stand trial for kidnapping and killing Bryan Ruff, leaving his body to be found nearly two years later.
Last fall, prosecutors charged Ruff's former co-worker, Dale Bradley Jr., with the 1991 homicide. Following a two-day preliminary hearing, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton ruled Thursday that enough evidence exists for Bradley to stand trial on one count of first-degree murder. Bradley, 37, will return to court Monday for a pretrial hearing.
"We're just really, really thankful that all of this came about," said the victim's mother, Pat Ruff, who traveled with her husband, Frank, from their South Carolina home for the court proceedings.
From the evidence presented in court, which included allegations that Ruff was having an affair with Bradley's wife, Pat Ruff said she believes Bradley is the man who killed her son. Particularly convincing, she said, is a 3-inch scuff of red paint found on the bottom of Ruff's boot. According to expert testimony, the paint is an identical match to that taken from Bradley's 1974 Chevrolet Camaro.
The Ruffs said Thursday they knew little about Bradley. "Fourteen years ago we heard that he was his friend," Pat Ruff said. "Other than that, we don't know."
In addition to the paint chip, prosecutors are relying on the testimony of Kristi Bradley, Bradley's first wife. She has said she believed Dale Bradley was aware of the affair between her and Ruff, and that her husband uncharacteristically cleaned out the trunk of his car the morning of Ruff's disappearance. Dale Bradley also allegedly made early statements about the type of gun used to kill Ruff, details that were not made public until more than a dozen years later.
Ruff, 22, disappeared from his guard shack at Kennecott Corp. while on nighttime duty Dec. 10, 1991. His locked car was in the parking lot and his lunch half-eaten on his desk. Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Todd Park, who is credited with cracking the cold murder case, testified Thursday that there was no sign of struggle at the guard station.
A student at Weber State University, Ruff had a pregnant wife and an 18-month-old daughter, and many speculated he had simply run away from his responsibilities at home. Then in July 1993, campers found Ruff's body still wearing his tattered guard uniform in a shallow grave at Five Mile Pass near Fairfield, Utah County.
Frank and Pat Ruff said the 19 months between Ruff's disappearance and the discovery of his body was by far the most difficult part of the entire ordeal. "At least we knew," Frank Ruff said. "It put an end to a lot of false rumors and accusations."
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