Tom Smart, Deseret News
Claudia Perry, the victim's mother, left, and Arlene Pyle, the defendant's mother, stand together in 1st District Court in Logan on Thursday. The two have developed a friendship in the trial of Glenn Howard Griffin, who is on trial in the 1984 slaying of Bradley Newell Perry.

LOGAN — The first time they met, and Claudia and her husband couldn't help but wrap their arms around Arlene, everybody cried.

Ever since, they have become the unlikeliest of friends.

They lean on each other for support, and when it all feels like too much to handle they talk, sometimes for hours.

"We both lost a son," Arlene Pyle said.

Newell and Claudia Perry's son, Bradley Perry, was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in a Box Elder County gas station more than 20 years ago. Arlene Pyle's son, Glenn Howard Griffin, is one of the men charged with the slaying.

All along the case has had its film noir makings. The search for the killers turned cold until a detective began narrowing suspects in 1997, and technological advancements helped investigators tie DNA on a $1 bill to Griffin, according to court documents.

Underneath all of that, however, is the story of two families coming together, the way Arlene's and Claudia's fingers come together when they hold hands on the way out of the 1st District courtroom.

With the trial for the 1984 murder beginning last week, both Pyle and the Perrys said they have relied on the other family's strength to endure.

The families have sometimes sat together during hearings. When Pyle left the courtroom during an earlier proceeding, Newell Perry followed her outside.

"He talked with her because we love her," Claudia Perry said.

Pyle sends the Perry family thank-you cards. Last Mother's Day, Claudia Perry stood at Pyle's front door with a book and a note.

"I can't even say how I feel about that," Pyle said. "It's been an absolute blessing. It would be twice as hard if they weren't those kinds of people."

The trial, which is scheduled to run late into next month, will bring up "bad memories" of May 26, 1984, when Bradley Perry was found dead, his parents said.

The 21-year-old was, as it says on his headstone, a "peacemaker." He was a kid who hated violence, and refused to go deer hunting. "He didn't even want to catch a fish," his mother said. "His death was just devastating. It was so against everything he believed in."

Pyle still stands by Griffin, her adopted son. But what else is a mother supposed to do, the Perrys asked.

Pyle talks to her son each week about his children, the weather and all the new buildings going up around Logan. "We don't talk about the case at all," she said. Monday, Pyle washed her son's clothes, white shirts and socks for the trial, and dropped them off at the jail.

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"It's hard for me because a young boy has lost his life," Pyle said. "That has hurt me more than anything. A young boy has lost his life. How much my son had to do with it, I still don't know."

Prosecutors said Griffin was one of two men who held Bradley Perry down, stabbed him and beat him to death. The 21-year-old was found dead in the early morning hours of May 26, 1984.

If Griffin is convicted, he could face death by lethal injection.

It is a difficult situation for the two families, the unlikely friends, in it together.

"Neither one of us are going to win this one," Claudia Perry said.