A scuff of paint on a boot has led to a charge and an arrest in a nearly 14-year-old murder case for the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Dale Bradley, 37, was arrested Monday in the 1991 killing of Kennecott security guard Bryan Patrick Ruff. He has been charged in 3rd District Court with criminal homicide, a first-degree felony.
Bradley is also a person of interest in the death of his wife, Crystal Bradley, who was found April 30 stabbed to death near her Wellington, Carbon County, home. As of Tuesday, no arrests had been made in her death.
Ruff's widow, Jennifer Campbell, who has since remarried, told the Deseret Morning News she didn't know the cold case had been reopened. And she did not expect investigators to arrest who they did.
"It's been quite an emotional day for me. Obviously it's not the outcome I had expected. I had always been told and believed Bryan was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said Tuesday.
Ruff, who was 22 at the time of his disappearance, worked for Burns Security as a guard at Kennecott Corp. On the night of Dec. 10, 1991, he went missing. His car was found locked in the parking lot, his lunch sitting half-eaten in his guard shack and there were no signs of a struggle.
Bradley was one of Ruff's co-workers. According to court documents, Bradley told investigators at the time of Ruff's disappearance he suspected Ruff was having an affair with Bradley's then-wife, Kristi.
The case went cold and rumors began to swirl that Ruff simply ran away from his then 18-month-old daughter and wife, who was six months pregnant.
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.
"He was shot multiple times with a .22-caliber weapon," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Kris Ownby, head of the homicide unit.
Despite the discovery of a body, the case went cold again.
That changed, however, in May when Crystal Bradley — Dale Bradley's second wife — was found dead.
Knowing that Dale Bradley had been questioned extensively in the Ruff murder, the Carbon County sheriff called Salt Lake County investigators to let them know Bradley was now a person of interest in a homicide there, Ownby said.
"Given that information I had our cold-case detective, Todd Park, re-examine the Ruff case," he said.
Park spent hours reinterviewing witnesses and going over old evidence that had been preserved.
That police work paid off when Park discovered a three-inch scuff of paint on the instep on the bottom of one of Ruff's cowboy boots. The boots, which were not on Ruff's body, were found about 200 yards away by a police dog the day after the grave was discovered.
A forensics expert from Washington was brought to Utah to compare paint from the boot to paint samples taken in 1991 from the exterior of Bradley's car, which was dented the night Ruff went missing. The two matched.
Through phone records and witness statements, investigators determined Bradley was at Ruff's guard shack the night he disappeared even though it was Bradley's day off, according to the charging documents filed Sept. 14.
Kristi Bradley told police that the day Ruff disappeared her husband cleaned out the trunk of his car, something she thought was unusual because he had never done that before, court documents state.
Also in 1991, Dale Bradley gave conflicting statements to authorities as to his whereabouts and how his car door was damaged that night. The dirt on his car did not match the areas where he claimed to have been but did later match the soil from Five Mile Canyon, according to court documents.
After Ruff's body was found in 1993, Kristi Bradley said her husband told her Ruff was shot five times in the torso with a .22-caliber gun, details that were never released to the public and that the Utah State Medical Examiner confirmed, court documents state.
Monday, sheriff's investigators went to Wellington and arrested Dale Bradley without incident.
"It's been so many years. We're relieved we finally have some answers," Campbell said. "It's just been an emotional roller coaster for me."
Campbell said her daughters, now 13 and 15, did not know their father but they are relieved that justice will be served.
"It's so hard for me to relive that time. That time of my life I don't particularly like to relive. It brings back a lot of memories, a lot of emotions," she said.
Campbell said she had only met Bradley two or three times in the past.
"I believe we all feel like Bryan deserved some sort of justice. We would like some answers to what in the world happened that night? We all suffered so much at the hands of Dale, if he is convicted. He needs to pay for what he did."
This is the second time in a week that sheriff's detectives have filed charges and made arrests in a previous cold-case murder. Last week, charges were filed against four men — one of whom has been arrested — in a 1995 Salt Lake City murder.
"We're very, very pleased," Ownby said of the two cases.