A Young Father Disappears For A Second Time From A Copper Mining Site — What Happened?

Was Bryan Ruff an overwhelmed father who walked away from his life? Or did something more sinister happen? The theories ran wild around the 1991 disappearance of a man who simply vanished from his graveyard shift.

Background

Bryan Patrick Ruff was born on August 12, 1969. He was working as a security guard at the Kennecott Copper Mine just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Bryan was married to a woman named Jennifer, and together they had a 15 month old daughter and had another child on the way.

Bryan and Jennifer

The Disappearance

On December 10, 1991, Bryan was reported missing. The Salt Lake City Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Bryan’s car was found in a nearby lot, and his lunch was left out in the guard shack.

It had just snowed a few hours earlier, but there were no footprints around the guard shack, or near Bryan’s car.

While the police were in the shack, they received a phone call from Jennifer. Jennifer said she had last spoken to Bryan around 6:30pm. Jennifer said Bryan had to get off the phone when another co-worker arrived.

The police also received another phone call. This time, it was the voice of a different woman claiming to be Jennifer. The police discovered that it was a woman named Christy Bradley, the wife of Bryan’s co-worker, Dale Bradley.

A Love Square

The police went to speak to Dale and Christy at their home. Christy said that she and Bryan had become good friends when she brought lunch to her husband at work. Christy said she and Bryan talked regularly on the phone.

Christy said she had been at home all day. Dale said he had been off from work and ran errands. He also told the police that his car had broken down near the University of Utah, so he had to call a friend.

Just 5 days after Bryan disappeared, Jennifer discovered that Bryan was having an affair. She had found a phone bill and credit card bills that she had no idea about. Jennifer also discovered that Bryan had been in Las Vegas with Christy in November.

Christy and Dale were asked to take polygraph tests, and they both passed. Dale insisted that he had no idea about the affair, or where Bryan was.

Another Theory

The police didn’t have any evidence linking Dale or Christy to Bryan’s disappearance.

The police discovered that two other security guards at the mine had recently been arrested for stealing metals, and selling them at junk metal shops. Bryan’s boss said that about $150,000 worth of materials were stolen.

The Search for Bryan

In July 1993, some hikers found human remains in a camping site about 3o minutes away from the mine.

The remains belonged to Bryan. He was still wearing his uniform, and had his wallet on him. His dental records were used to help positively identify his remains.

Sadly, Bryan’s case would go unsolved for another 14 years.

The Prime Suspect

In 2005, the Carbon County police contacted the Salt Lake City Sheriff’s Office. They said they were looking into Dale Bradley for the murder of his second wife.

The police contacted Kristi, Dale’s first wife, who was living in Texas. Kristi told the police something she hadn’t told them before. She said she saw Dale cleaning the trunk of his ‘74 Camaro. Kristi said she had never seen Dale clean his car.

The police re-examined the evidence. They noticed a reddish orange paint smear on Bryan’s work boot. It was the same color as the paint from Dale’s car.

The Conviction

In September 2005, Dale Bradley was arrested and charged with murder.

The prosecution’s theory was that Dale knew, or had a strong suspicion about Bryan and Christy’s affair.

It’s believed that Dale knew Bryan’s schedule, and when the mine would be empty. He may have lured Bryan out to his car, and forced him into the trunk at gun point. Bryan tried to kick his way out, and was driven the 30 minutes to the campsite. Dale forced Bryan to take off his boots so he couldn’t run, shot him, and left him in a shallow grave.

In January 2007, Dale pled guilty to second degree manslaughter and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Dale Bradley in a more recent photo

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sure, Bryan made mistakes. He shouldn’t have quit his job, and fled with his girlfriend to Las Vegas. But, he didn’t deserve to be killed by a jealous and controlling person. Dale killed Bryan, and probably killed his second wife. He deserves a lot longer than 40 years. Maybe someday Crystal’s murder will be solved too, and he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

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