The Justice Files: Two more boys vanish, Five boys Pt. 4

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Kim Peterson and Graeme Cunningham didn’t have anything in common.

They didn’t know each other and lived a distance from each other.

But the one thing they had in common was that the man who kidnapped them lived near each of them.

Peterson’s disappearance was investigated by South Salt Lake police. The former detective who was on the case agreed to talk about the investigation, but did not want his name revealed.

“I knew that he frequented the skating rink there,” said the former detective. “(He) especially played a little bit of pool.”

The Ritz Classic Bowling Alley was a refuge for the 11-year old. According to the former detective, Peterson had a rough home life.

“In talking to his stepdad, I got the impression that Kim didn’t like to be at home very much,” he said. 

When Peterson disappeared, his parents learned that he wanted to sell his roller skates to a man at the roller rink. But according to police, his parents wanted to meet this buyer.

Peterson went back to the bowling alley, but never returned. The former detective said they never learned who this man was, but they continued to question the step-dad.

“We got the notion that Kim was a threat to his marriage to Kim’s mother,” he said.  “Of course that raised another red flag.”

The former detective said they found the step-dad’s notebook, which implicated him even further.

“We didn’t have any evidence to bring him in,”

Peterson was never seen again, and his case remained unsolved until 1983.

That’s when Graeme Cunninham also disappeared.

“In July of 1983, Graeme Cunningham, who I believe was 13-years old at the time, disappeared,” said Creighton Horton, the former deputy Salt Lake district attorney.

At the time, Cunninham was headed to Disneyland with a neighbor named Roger Downs and his so-called stepson.

“And then he disappeared two days before,” said Horton. “He took a phone call from somebody and then said, ‘I’ll be right back, I’m going around the corner’ or something and never came back,” Horton said.

Three days after his disappearance, the first news accounts alerted the public with police telling reporters that Cunningham ‘should not be treated as a runaway.”

Cunningham’s neighbor friend Roger Downs and his son left for California and returned shortly after the disappearance. Downs claimed he never saw the boy. He even joined efforts to find Cunningham.

“He sat in my house, just like we are, to make my life easier,” said his mother Shona Cunningham in 1987. “(He wanted) to help find Graeme.”

A month earlier, Troy Ward also disappeared and had yet to be found. There was some thought the two disappearances were connected.

In 1983, the sheriff told reporters “we have nothing to show that is the case, but we have nothing to discount it either.”

In a routine move, Salt Lake City police brought Downs and his so-called stepson to headquarters for questioning.

And that’s when the investigation took a dramatic turn. Friday, in the final episode of the “Five boys,” the devil in Salt Lake City is exposed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates

IN FOCUS

More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files