PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Beverly Peterman was afraid of Michael Kufrin when he came to her door.
It was shortly after her friend Peggy Sue Case had suddenly vanished in 1988. Kufrin wanted to use her car to go see Case.
“At that point I was getting scared because he kept in contact with me which was not normal,” recalled Peterman. “He and I had not had contact without her (presence). So when he showed up at my house that day, I was very scared.
Peterman managed to call a friend who came to the house and left with Peterman. Kufrin watched them leave and she never had contact with Kufrin again.
“He suspected I knew something,” Peterman said.
She never saw or heard from Case again. “I wondered where she was every day for 29-years.
Kufrin was Case’s former boyfriend in 1988. Peterman said they had a rocky relationship and she wanted to end their relationship and strike out on her own. But Kufrin continued to court her despite efforts to leave.
When Case disappeared, Peterman suspected Kufrin had something to do with it.
“He kept changing his story (about her disappearance),” said Peterman.
After she vanished, Kufrin called Case’s employer to say she had left with a friend. Peterman said she also called the same employer only to learn Kufrin’s story.
“(Employer) said ‘I thought you went to Idaho with her,’” recalled Peterman.
Peterman testified during Kufrin’s near three-week trial. Wednesday, a jury found him guilty of murdering Case. It took them nearly four hours to reach a verdict.
“I had hoped there would be no way there could be any other verdict other than guilty,” she said. “I’m very happy that it’s finally come to this, that it can finally come to an end.
Kufrin was long suspected of being involved with Case’s disappearance. But there was no evidence that a crime had occurred.
“It was just a missing persons case,” said Carl Johnston, the former Spanish Fork police detective who conducted the original investigation.
But Johnston said in 2017 when her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave, it turned into a murder investigation. Her remains were found inside a roof cellar behind the home where Case and Kufrin once shared. Johnston said Kufrin became a murder suspect and was eventually charged with her murder.
Johnston too learned of the verdict Wednesday evening.
“I think it’s a happy day for the Ellsworth family, total justice for Peggy Sue Case,” he said.
The Ellsworth family had no comment regarding the trial outcome.
During the trial, Kufrin’s attorney said police dogs never picked up the scent of Case’s body at the cellar. He claimed her body wasn’t there, but years later, someone else returned the body and buried it. It was an attempt to cast doubt in the minds of the jury. But Johnston explained why the dogs never picked up her scent in 1988.
“Mike had his own dog and was using that root cellar as a doghouse,” Johnston said. “The dog that we had there would only smell (Mike’s) dog. It didn’t smell anything else.”
Peterman said her friend once made several trinkets for her as a gift. She said she still has those and will always treasure them.
“Peggy Sue was friends to everyone she met,” said Peterman. “That’s the kind of person she was. Everyone can now know what happened and they put her to rest. She is just at rest. And (Kufrin) is where he needs to be.”
Kufrin remains in the Utah County jail awaiting sentencing. He was convicted of second degree murder and faces up to 15-years in prison. He’ll be sentenced July 20.