On a cold Tuesday morning, just before Thanksgiving Dale Bruner would call the Silverthorne Colorado police to report his wife, Stephanie, missing. He would claim that on the night before the two had had an argument and that she had left with her laptop into the night about 10:30. It should be noted that there was a blizzard going on at the time. By morning when she did not return he called the police.
Three days after being reported murdered she would be found floating in The Blue River near her home. An autopsy would reveal that she had suffered from blunt force trauma and strangulation. These injuries were listed in her cause of death along with hypothermia and drowning that indicated that she was still breathing when she was put in the water.
Almost immediately, as if often the case, the authorities were suspicious of Dale Bruner's story. First, it seemed odd that not only would she go out “for a walk” in the middle of a blizzard, but if she was walking why would she need her laptop? There was no indication that her vehicle was ever missing, at least not in anything that I found. Secondly, it was reported that Bruner did not help in any searches for his wife in any way, including passing out fliers.
Authorities would discover that Stephanie had filed for divorce from Dale about three weeks prior and there had been talk of domestic abuse towards her and at least one of their children. They would also discover that she was having some sort of an affair with a married man. It is unclear just how far this affair had come. Some say it was an emotional affair while others claim that it went further than that.
Eight months after Stephanie's body was found Dale Bruner would be indicted by a grand jury. At his trial in July of 2012 the defense would claim that the man Stephanie was having an affair with, and his wife, were potential suspects and that the police had not properly investigated the case. The prosecution of course would claim that they had investigated and cleared the couple. Dale and Stephanie's daughter would testify through a closed circuit television that she heard her parents loudly arguing the night Stephanie supposedly just left. The prosecution also presented two ex-girlfriends of Dale's that testified of domestic violence in their relationships in which they would claim that he had placed his hands on their throats.
I found no evidence of any sort of forensic information that conclusively linked Dale Bruner to this crime but to be fair that does not mean that there was not any. After what I could only find as described as “a few hours” of deliberation the jury convicted Dale Bruner for second degree murder, two counts of first degree assault and three counts of tampering with evidence. I do not honestly know what the tampering with evidence counts pertained. In September of 2012 the judge sentenced him to 112 years. He received forty-eight for second degree murder, thirty-two years each for the assault charges and eighteen months each on the tampering with evidence charges. It appears the sentence was ordered to run consecutively meaning one after another as opposed to being at the same time. According to state law he must serve 75% of his sentence, or eighty-four years, before being eligible for parole. According to the Department of Corrections his first parole hearing is in October of 2070.
I have found no evidence of an appeal being heard on this case or at least ruled upon. I find this interesting considering it has been over four years since the conviction. I am a bit disappointed in not finding one as I think it could answer some questions I have about the evidence that was presented at the trial.