The Justice Files: Jury finds boyfriend guilty in 1988 murder

Justice Files

PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – It’s taken more than 30-years to learn who murdered Peggy Sue Case in 1988.

Late Wednesday, a jury returned a guilty verdict against her former boyfriend, Michael Kufrin, who in 2017 was charged with her murder.

Kufrin has long been suspected of murdering Case, who vanished and was never heard from again. Her body was never recovered until 2017. And then the discovery was the opening Spanish Fork police and prosecutors needed to bring murder charges against Kufrin.

“On July 9, 1988, 30+ years ago, 27-year old Peggy Sue Case disappeared,” said deputy Utah County attorney Chad Grunnander. “She simply vanished.”

Grunnander made that opening statement as the trial began on June 2.

In 2017, the human remains of Case were found in a shallow grave inside a root cellar. It was located in the backyard of a home that Case once shared with Kufrin.

It was Gordon Cazier and his friend who discovered the bones. In 2017, he was the new tenant at the home where Kufrin and Case once lived. He had heard from a neighbor about Case’s disappearance and learned the boy may still be on the property. One day, he noticed a depression in the cellar, and with the help of a friend, started digging.

“We dug down about 18 inches and there was a blanket,” said Cazier in 2017. “He (friend) asked for my knife and he cut open the blanket and there was a skull looking at us.”

Case was last seen leaving a company party in 1988. Witnessed said Case and Kufrin left together. Her friends also claimed Case was wearing a black top and black shorts. Kufrin was long suspected of her disappearance but was never arrested.

But all that changed in 2017 when Case’s body was found. Police and prosecutors claimed the evidence found in the grave pointed to Kufrin and he was eventually arrested and charged.

But from the very beginning, Kufrin insisted Case just up and left.

This is from Kufrin’s 2017 police interview played during his trial.

Police: “I just can’t believe she would up and leave but not tell anybody. Tell any of her friends or her family. Why did she not tell somebody, something?

Kufrin: “Well, when she went to Colorado, she did the same thing.”

In 1988, Kufrin told police and friends that Peggy Sue would give him updates as to where she was. He even claimed she returned to their Spanish Fork home and was staying with him. But he claimed she didn’t want to see anyone.

When Case’s remains were found, she had on the same black top and shorts when she was last seen at a hot tub party in 1988.

“Well I guess, if you really want the truth, well, all right, I’m telling the truth,” Kufrin said in his 2017 police interview. “I can’t tell you something if I wasn’t there.”

But Kufrin’s attorney claimed no one saw Kufrin kill Case. Matthew Morrise told the jury that emotions from witnesses are not evidence and it doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed Case.

Their soil experts also cast doubt whether Case was even buried in the cellar all those years.

“Peggy was buried somewhere else for years,” Morrise said. “And that much later her body was moved from where she was into that roof cellar.”

It took the jury four hours to end their deliberations. They found Kufrin guilty of second degree murder. The offense carries a one-to-fifteen year prison sentence. The judge set July 20 for sentencing.

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