Federal officials charged a fifth man Monday in connection with the ongoing investigation into the mysterious fate of Spanish Fork teenager Kiplyn Davis, who disappeared 10 years ago.
David Rucker Leifson, 28, made an initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Alba and entered not guilty pleas to six felony counts of perjury. A detention hearing is set for Wednesday.
If convicted, each count carries a five-year prison term.
A grand jury returned the six-count indictment on Thursday, and Leifson was arrested later that day.
Federal investigators and Kiplyn Davis' family have long said they suspected many people in the close-knit community knew more about 15-year-old Kiplyn's disappearance from Spanish Fork High School than they were saying.
How could there be such group loyalty and silence for a decade?
"I don't believe it was based on loyalty," U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said at a press conference Monday afternoon. "It was based on good old-fashioned fear."
Warner suggested that it was not unreasonable for people to be afraid given the fact that Kiplyn disappeared seemingly without a trace and considering "the criminal histories of some individuals," whom Warner declined to name.
But it is extremely useful that the grand jury process is secret, he said, and with every new development in the case, prosecutors are getting closer to solving the case.
"We've had dozens and dozens of people come in and be very helpful, and slowly but surely, this wall of silence is crumbling," he said.
Warner emphasized that no one has been charged with murder. If that were to happen, it likely would be handled by the Utah County Attorney's Office.
All defendants in the federal cases are charged with perjury or making false statements. Warner said he does not anticipate more indictments, but he also doesn't rule out the possibility of more coming along.
Others charged in the federal case include Christopher Neal Jeppson, Timmy Olsen, Garry Blackmore and Scott Brunson. All have January trial dates set, but Warner said he hoped some would find "other ways to resolve their problems," such as plea agreements and cooperating with authorities.
Richard Davis, Kiplyn's father, called Monday's events "another step forward" in a drawn-out and heartbreaking situation.
"My hunch so far has been right," he said, as to who might have been involved in Kiplyn's disappearance. "I feel that Tim Olsen, Chris Jeppson and (David) Rucker Leifson had something to do with the disappearance of my daughter. I think she went for a ride with them thinking she would come back to school. I feel she was raped and murdered," Davis said.
Davis, in an apparent reference to life after death, said he knows Kiplyn is safe where she is now, but he wants very much to find her remains. "I'd sure like to bring her home and put her where she needs to be before the snow flies."