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‘84 murder case officially closed

Despite leads, Perry slaying lacks evidence

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BRIGHAM CITY — The investigation into the 1984 murder of Bradley Newell Perry is closed, according to the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office.

"There is no more we can do," sheriff's detective Scott Cosgrove said. "It now rests in the county attorney's hands."

Cosgrove said he sent a letter to Box Elder County Attorney Amy Hugie informing her that after six years and more than 300 suspects, he had investigated every possible lead and replied to every inquiry the county attorney had.

"We believe we answered the questions," he said.

Nevertheless, Perry's mother isn't holding out much hope that justice will be served.

"I doubt very much they will (file charges)," Claudia Perry said. "Without physical evidence not much will get done. Unless something else happens, it's over."

Claudia Perry told the Deseret Morning News that according to the information she received, prosecutors lack the physical evidence needed to file charges.

Box Elder County Attorney Amy Hugie did not return calls to the Deseret Morning News Wednesday or Thursday.

Brad Perry, 21, was murdered May 26, 1984 while working at the family gas station on U.S. 89 near Willard. He was stabbed 15 times with a screwdriver and his skull was crushed with several blunt objects.

No one was ever charged in the murder.

The case remained inactive for more than a decade until Cosgrove reopened it in 1997. With the advances in forensic technology, Cosgrove was able to develop new evidence and leads in the case. He eventually whittled 300 potential suspects down to just a handful.

In 2000, an elite group of DNA and fingerprint experts with the assistance of the Utah Attorney General's Office gathered in Brigham City to go over evidence in the case. The group unanimously agreed upon two primary suspects.

Fate also seemed to be on the side of investigators who were able to track down two men who were students at Utah State University in 1984 and may have come face-to-face with one of the alleged murderers. The men pulled into the gas station shortly after the slaying occurred.

One of the alleged killers, who still had blood on his hands, posed as a gas station attendant and filled up the boy's tank. One of the students, who wished to remain anonymous, now owns a restaurant in Salt Lake City.

"I was looking at him and I saw bloodstains on his hands. There was definitely blood wiped off of his shoes," he told the Deseret News in 2000.

Despite the momentum that seemed to build in the case, Perry's parents became involved in a heated and public battle with former county attorney John Bunderson in 2000 for allegedly dragging his feet in filing charges. The Perrys' attorney at the time was Hugie.

Due in part to the publicity that surrounded the Perry-Bunderson feud, the long time incumbent Bunderson lost his county attorney's seat to newcomer Hugie in 2002.

For the past couple of years the Perry family hopes were significantly raised when all signs seemed to indicate that charges were close to being filed. But now, Claudia Perry isn't sure that will ever happen.

Based on what she knows about the case, Perry said there were allegedly five people directly or indirectly involved with her son's murder.

"We know who the five are who did it," she said. "I guess we just have the knowledge of who did it and live with it."

In May, the name of Craig Lee Martinez, 34, surfaced as a potential suspect. Though he was not charged with the murder, he was charged in 1st District Court with four second-degree felony counts of obstruction of justice and four third-degree felony counts of witness tampering in connection with the Perry case.

Martinez was accused in court documents of telling family members to quiet a key witness after he learned the murder investigation was strongly pointing in his direction. Those phone conversations from prison were recorded by the Department of Corrections.

Ron Yengich, Martinez's attorney, argued the tapes could not be submitted as evidence because of a brief change in the obstruction statute from approximately August 2000 to the spring of 2001.

The charges were dismissed in June.

Claudia Perry publicly acknowledged for the first time Thursday that the Martinez family has lived next door to the Perrys for many years. His mother is still there, and she has no ill feelings toward her.

Perry said the roller coaster the family was on for the past few years was hard.

"We had put it to bed years ago. Then you get excited again, you think you're going to get justice. But then it's dead again."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com