SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — A cold case dating back more than 30 years has been closed, and officials said the delay stems from some “missteps” that were made during the murder investigation and now both suspects have already passed away.
In August of 1981, 45-year-old Buddy Conti was working at Kearns drug store, which he owned, in Salt Lake County.
An armed suspect came into the store and carried out a robbery, then, according to a press release from Unified Police Department, the suspect told Conti and another employee to run through a nearby field. Conti may have stopped to confront the suspect, at which point he was fatally shot.
Earlier in 2015, detectives re-examining the case learned that Richard Gill and Clyde Dudley had been planning to rob the drug store and during the robbery a shot was fired. Police later learned the cold case homicide stemmed from a robbery and put the two together.
The investigation into the murder went cold when charges couldn’t be brought against anyone. The press release states that Gill had fled Utah and was arrested in Springfield, Missouri. Dudley took his own life in 1983, and Gill passed away in Missouri in 2013 without ever having been brought to Utah to face charges.
“Through a series of what can only be described as missteps, Mr. Gill was never communicated with by investigators, although charges were leveled by the District Attorney and follow-up documents were put in the case file, for a variety of reasons, mistakes, Mr. Gill was never formally interviewed, nor was he formally charged,” Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said Friday.
The press release states the District Attorney’s Office for Salt Lake County determined there was probable cause to charge both suspects with homicide and aggravated robbery, and they stated in the press release, “There is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in this murder and the case will now be closed.”