PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – It took over 30 years to find out who murdered Peggy Sue Case in 1988.
Late Wednesday, a jury returned a guilty verdict against her ex-boyfriend, Michael Kufrin, who in 2017 was charged with his murder.
Kufrin has long been suspected of murdering Case, who went missing and never heard of again. His body was not found until 2017. And then the discovery was the opening that Spanish police and prosecutors needed to lay murder charges against Kufrin.
“On July 9, 1988, over 30 years ago, Peggy Sue Case, 27, disappeared,” said Chad Grunnander, assistant district attorney for Utah County. “She just disappeared.”
Grunnander made the opening statement at the start of the trial on June 2.
In 2017, Case’s human remains were found in a shallow grave inside a root cellar. It was located in the courtyard of a house Case once shared with Kufrin.
Gordon Cazier and his friend discovered the bones. In 2017, he was the new tenant of the house where Kufrin and Case once lived. He had heard of Case’s disappearance from a neighbor and learned that the boy might still be on the property. One day he noticed a depression in the cellar and, with the help of a friend, started digging.
âWe dug about 18 inches and there was a blanket,â Cazier said in 2017. âHe (a friend) asked for my knife and he opened the blanket and there was a skull looking at us.â
Case was last seen leaving a company party in 1988. The witness testified that Case and Kufrin left together. His friends also claimed that Case was wearing a black top and black shorts. Kufrin has long been suspected of his disappearance but has never been arrested.
But that all changed in 2017 when Case’s body was found. Police and prosecutors claimed evidence found in the grave pointed to Kufrin and he was ultimately arrested and charged.
But from the start, Kufrin insisted that Case get up and go.
This is from the 2017 Kufrin police interview during his trial.
Police: âI just can’t believe she would get up and leave without telling anyone. Talk to a friend or family about it. Why didn’t she say anything to someone, something?
Kufrin: “Well, when she went to Colorado, she did the same.”
In 1988, Kufrin told police and her friends that Peggy Sue would give her information about her whereabouts. He even claimed that she had returned to their Spanish Fork home and was staying with him. But he said she didn’t want to see anyone.
When Case’s remains were found, she was wearing the same black top and shorts when she was last seen at a hot tub party in 1988.
âWell, I guess if you really want the truth, well, okay, I’m telling the truth,â Kufrin said during his police interview in 2017. âI can’t tell you something though I was not there.”
But Kufrin’s lawyer claimed that no one saw Kufrin kill Case. Matthew Morrise told the jury that the emotions of the witnesses are not evidence and that it does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed Case.
Their soil experts also questioned that Case had even been buried in the cellar all these years.
âPeggy has been buried elsewhere for years,â Morrise said. “And much later, her body was moved from where she was in that cellar on the roof.”
It took four hours for the jury to complete their deliberations. They found Kufrin guilty of second degree murder. The offense is punishable by one to fifteen years in prison. The judge set the sentence for July 20.