The Justice Files: A waiting game

Top Stories

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Bryan Ruff didn’t disappear. He was murdered.

In 1991 Bryan Ruff went missing from his security post the Kennecott Copper Mine.

Ruff was known to disappear but this time it was different. And his former wife knew something was wrong.

“Every time I drove around, I was like where in the world could he be,” said Jennifer Campbell who is now remarried. “It was just terrifying.”

Over the next 18-months, authorities investigated his sudden departure while Campbell waited by the phone.

“I don’t understand who would want to do this,” Campbell told reporters in 1992. “I am totally baffled.’

The previous month, Ruff had left Utah without telling his wife. He returned after learning his young daughter was hospitalized. Upon his return, Campbell said her then-husband said he left because he needed to think things over.

But in December when Ruff disappeared again, Campbell visited the guard shack where Ruff worked. She saw his possessions and car. She thought the worst and detectives confirmed he may have been killed.

“From talking with the detectives, it was very likely (that he’d been murdered),” Campbell said.  “There was no action on credit cards, financially. He just dropped off from the face of the earth.”

In South Carolina, Ruff’s parents also waited by the phone.

“We were on pins and needles,” said Frank Ruff. “Every time we’d hear a phone ring, we’re hoping that he’s gonna’ call us or let us know where he was at. We just didn’t know. We were praying that he’d just show up.”

July 1993, Hikers came across human remains at five-mile pass.

“He was still in his uniform and there were other things with the body that identified it was him, probably Bryan,” Rod Norton, a Salt Lake sheriff’s spokesman told reporters in 1993.

Campbell recalled that day. She was watching news of a body being found in when the sheriff’s office called.

“I remember just completely going numb,” said Campbell. “I fell to the ground and I remember my dad picking me up and carrying me to the couch.”

Frank Ruff said it wasn’t the outcome they had hoped but it was information they needed to hear.

“I guess in a way we were relieved,” Ruff said. “Now we know what happened to him.

For those 18-months, Campbell took on the role of a single parent. Her parents were nearby but for the most part, she was on her own raising a toddler and giving birth to their second child.

“Everything in our lives had completely fallen apart,” she said.

Now it was up to detectives to learn who could have possibly killed Ryan. One person brought in for questioning was Dale Bradley, Ryan’s co-worker, and friend.

“That question’s been asked lots of times,” Bradley said during a police interview.

The exclusive interview was obtained by ABC4 from Unified Police. He was asked if he had anything to do with Ryan’s murder.

” I wouldn’t do nothing to the man,” said Bradly.  “I didn’t kill nobody.”

Wednesday, in part 3 of Ruff’s disappearance and murder, detectives and Campbell soon learn of Ruff’s dark secret.

Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.
Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

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

Transfer of Power

FULL COVERAGE: Transfer of Power