PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – It’s been more than 30 years for a cold case murder to reach this stage. And it could be a few more months before Peggy Sue Case’s family finds out if her former boyfriend had anything to do with her murder.
Michael Kufrin was in a Provo courtroom Thursday for a preliminary hearing. It’s part of the judicial process to see if a judge is convinced there’s enough evidence for the defendant to go to trial.
In 2017, Kurfrin was charged with Case’s murder after a major breakthrough in the case.
Detectives believed Case’s body was buried somewhere in Utah or Nevada. That day, they learned Case was buried in a dirt cellar behind where the couple lived.
The new occupants of the home in Spanish Fork made the discovery. Back then Gordon Cazier said they were planning to move out and were cleaning the cellar.
“We dug down about 18 inches and there was a blanket,” he told ABC4 in 2017. “He (friend) asked for my knife and he cut open the blanket and there was a skull looking at us.”
The skull was later identified as Case who mysteriously disappeared following a party.
Kufrin was with Case at a company party and detective Carl Johnston learned from other attendees that Kufrin seemed upset with Case. But they left together and that was the last anyone ever saw Case.
Kufrin was suspected from the outset and it wasn’t until Case’s remains were found that he was charged with her murder.
At Thursday’s preliminary hearing Johnston, the former Spanish Fork police detective was the first witness for the state’s case. He testified that Kufrin claimed Case went to Nevada to buy a car.
“(Kufrin) indicated that Peggy had arrived to purchase the car,” Johnston testified. “He indicated that she was going to visit other friends.”
Over several days, Kufrin allegedly told Johnston that Case was in different locations throughout the west. Johnston testified he contacted those people Case was supposedly visiting.
“They had not seen or heard of Peggy Case,” he said.
Johnston said Kufrin’s stories of her whereabouts continued for several weeks and he said each one couldn’t be verified. He said one day he arrived at Kufrin home to talk to him again.
“Our conversation dealt with that Peggy had come home,” he said.
But he said there was still no sign of her. Kufrin allegedly told him that she was out running errands. Kufrin even showed him her travel bag.
“It seemed like a very strange travel bag for the number of days that she had been traveling,” Johnston said.
He noticed a few clothing items and didn’t find any makeup or other cosmetics a woman would pack.
Kufrin’s preliminary hearing will continue Friday. Last year, all hearings were suspended when the defense asked for a mental evaluation of Kufrin. But he was found to be mentally competent to stand trial. He has been in the Utah County jail since his arrest in 2017.
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