The Justice Files: Forensics and cold-case detective bring closure to 1991 murder

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Unlike Dale Bradley, forensics didn’t lie.

In 2007, Bradley was sentenced to prison for the murder of Bryan Ruff.  The two were friends having met while working as security guards for Kennecott Mine.  But a lover’s triangle entered the picture and caused that friendship to go sideways.

“Apparently they were just friends,” said Jennifer Campbell who was married to Ruff 1991. “They were both guards at that shack where they were at that smelter.”

But from the outset, Campbell didn’t trust Bradley.

“He was a really strange person and I struggled with him in the first place,” said Campbell. “He just gave me bad vibes.”

Ruff disappeared in November 1991 but returned when he learned their daughter was hospitalized. Campbell was able to forgive him thinking that he just needs to be alone.

“We were married clearly at a very young age and just a lot of pressure I think built up with the responsibility of having to raise a child,” said Campbell.

But a few weeks later, Ruff disappeared again. Authorities were called to investigate. They found his car parked outside the small building where he worked security. Inside, they found many of his possessions.

Meanwhile, Campbell along with detectives searched his phone records and credit cards.
She earned more about Ruff’s disappearance which took him from Provo to Las Vegas and onto San Francisco. She called a San Francisco number that was on Ruff’s phone log.

“It turned out to be Dale Bradley’s wife’s uncle,” said Campbell. “He answered and I asked him if he knew who Bryan Roof was and he immediately said that was my niece’s husband and they had come to visit him in November.” 

She realized then that her husband was having an affair with Bradley’s wife. 

“So that’s when the pieces started to come together,” said Campbell.

Ruff’s remains were found 18-months later in a shallow grave. Hikers found the remains near a 5-mile pass along the Utah and Tooele County line. It was later confirmed to be Ruff. The medical examiner determined he had been shot 5-times.

Around the time of his disappearance detectives with Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office brought Bradley in for questioning.

The following are excerpts from the police interview obtained by ABC4: 

Dale Bradley: “I didn’t do nothing to hurt him. I am not that type of person. I wouldn’t do nothing to the man. I didn’t kill nobody.”

When detectives searched Bradley’s car they noticed it had been muddied. They wanted to know where he had traveled recently. Bradley said he may have gone off the road but couldn’t provide details. Detectives were also aware of Ruff’s affair with Bradley’s wife and they offered it as a possible motive.

Detective: “I am not so sure people would blame you for a good friend of yours having an affair with your wife. I am not too sure a whole lot of people would put you at fault for something like that.”
Dale Bradley: “I didn’t do it. Even in that frame of mind I mean because I don’t get to the point where I’m irrational.”

But after that interview Bradley was let go. Investigators were not able to link him to the murder.

The case went cold and a decade later a cold case detective with the sheriff’s office reopened the case. Todd Parks examined Ruff’s boot that was in the evidence room. The boots were found with his body in the shallow grave. He noticed orange paint chips on the sole of the boot. He had a hunch and sent it to a forensics lab to have it tested.

Months later, forensics matched the orange paint chips to Bradley’s car. Their theory was that Ruff was tied and placed in the trunk of the car. But he attempted to kick the trunk door open and that’s where the paint chips stayed on the bottom of the boot.

Bradley faced murder charges and in 2007 admitted to the crime and was sentenced to up to 40-years in prison. Campbell along with Ruff’s parents were there for the sentencing.

“To wait 15-years to have some peace, it’s so powerful,” Campbell told reporters in 2007. “We were so happy that we were able to have some peace.”  

Nearly three decades have passed since Campbell first learned of Ruff’s betrayal. She found ways to move on from the hurt. She remarried and raised a family.  Ruff’s two daughters are grown women with families of their own.

“It was clearly a mistake and we have all made mistakes and it cost him his life,” Campbell said. “As I’ve told my girls, that was not who he was. It was a bad judgment call and it was a moment in time.  He was a wonderful person, a wonderful dad, a loving father. He was so excited to be having a baby and I wanted my kids to remember him that way.”  

Bradley ended up divorcing his wife even before the 2005 murder charges. But he remarried. His second wife was later found murdered in Carbon County. Bradley was suspected of the murder but no charges were ever filed. To date, the case remains unsolved.

  He will be eligible for parole in 2025.

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