Buried in the Backyard (2018–…): Season 2, Episode 6 - The Imposter - full transcript

A man goes missing from an idyllic Idaho town, leaving detectives puzzled and a daughter driven to find her father. As the investigation unravels, it reveals a truth that's stranger than fiction and a killer no one ever sees coming.

In a charming lakeside town,

the investigation
into a missing persons case

has Idaho detectives baffled.

I was looking
at it going,

"This isn't his writing."

This is not Paul Gruber.

We have an impostor.

Paul Gruber was alive.

Between our visits,
someone's going in the house

and having carpet installed.

That's all

But yet it happened.

A daughter driven
to uncover the truth.

I just wasn't gonna
stop trying to find my dad.

A truth stranger than fiction.

It really caught people
off guard in town.

It was bewildering.

I thought, "Wow."

When it comes
to idyllic mountain towns,

Sandpoint, Idaho
is a rare hidden gem.

It's pretty majestic,
we have one of the largest

freshwater lakes in Idaho.

Lake Pend Oreille.

We also have
the Selkirk Mountains

on one side of us
and the Cabinet Mountains

on the other.

It's breathtaking.

Probably one
of the few unspoiled places

left in the lower 48.

You don't have
to worry about crime,

you don't have to worry
about locking your door.

But sometimes,
disturbing things

happen in beautiful places.

In the summer of 1995,

it's been two long years

since Paul Gruber disappeared.

Investigators have scoured
the house many times over

and have found
no trace of anyone.

I've been in that house
at least 15 to 20 times.

I had cadaver dogs
under the house,

three times.

In August of 1995,

we were at the end
of our rope.

We were running out of leads.

Now, in a twist of fate,

someone comes forward
with new information.

It's enough to warrant

one final desperate
search of the house.

And that's when a deputy
notices something

he hasn't seen before.

He hollers
at the guys and said,

"Hey, this wasn't here before.

Something's not right."

There was two
depressions in the soil.

They pulled back the plastic.

And they dig down
a couple of feet,

and you can smell it.

And you'll never forget
that smell.

Thirty-one inches deep,

we detected the odor
of decaying flesh.

When I'm thinking about it,

I still get chills
up the back of my neck.

Investigators hold their breath

hoping they're on the verge
of solving

a baffling two-year mystery.

Is Paul Gruber still alive?

Thirty-one inches at 9:48.

We had the first indication
of the body.

While many people

have deep-seated roots
in this town,

53-year-old retiree Paul Gruber

is new to Sandpoint.

When he arrives in 1993,

he feels like he's found
heaven on earth.

In the 1990s,
Paul Gruber

was part of an exodus
of people

from around the country

that were coming here

because it is so beautiful

and so off the beaten path.

Here the retired
schoolteacher from Lake Tahoe

can afford to buy the home
of his dreams.

This is the living room, TV.

This is my master bedroom.

This is one of those
walk-in closets,

three of them,
one in each bedroom.

My dad was kind of techy.

And early on,
when other people

didn't all have video cameras,

like, everybody,

he was doing
a little videography.

He photographed
or videoed everything.

This is the,
dining room area.

Okay. Kitchen.

Here's pretty much an overview
of the whole house here.

He was excited about his house

and he wanted to share that
with everybody.

And this is my view
from the porch.

Not too bad, could be worse.

Just four months
after settling in

to his new place,

Paul hits the road.

He's headed back to Lake Tahoe,

looking forward to sharing
the Christmas holiday

with his daughter Shellie

and adorable grandkids.

He was fun.

There was a lot
of sentimental stuff going on

during that visit.

He was really into my kids.

He was so engaged.

I made him a stocking

right before he came.

And I went to a craft fair

and I got him a lantern.

It was pretty special that way,

and we didn't want him
to leave.

So, we kind of, like,

"Why don't you stay longer?"

But, he had things
to get back to, so.

He was giving everybody
hugs and kisses.

And Josiah was kind of,
you know.

I felt bad at that my dad's

gonna think he's--
doesn't like him.

I said, "No,
it's because he loves you

and doesn't want you to leave.

He just doesn't want you
to go."

As he pulled away,

I had a series
of premonitions.

Things don't--

they don't mean anything
in the moment,

but I had this feeling
I wouldn't see him again.

Several weeks pass
before Shellie realizes

her dad hasn't called.

Suddenly, she wonders
if something is amiss.

Got into February,

and I didn't hear from him
for Valentine's Day.

He'd usually send flowers
for Valentine's Day.

I was torn between worrying
and being mad, like,

"What are you doing?"

And I started making
phone calls to him

around that time,

but no answering
machine message.

Which was unusual for him,

he usually had a message
on there.

A week later,
when her son's birthday

comes and goes
with no card or call,

Shellie's three-year-old
leaves Grandpa a message.

I did not get
a return phone call.

And I thought
it was very unusual for him

not to call back.

Odd that he wasn't saying,

"What did Josiah do
for his birthday?

I'm sorry I missed it,
I'm sorry I was late,"

you know.

I think it was a week
from that phone call,

I went down to the mailbox,

and there was a card
from my dad.

Yay. You know,
I finally heard from him.

Staring at the card,

Shellie gets
an unsettling feeling.

I started looking
at the handwriting,

and the handwriting
didn't look right.

I knew my dad's signature

like the back
of my hand.

And he had a certain way
of looping his Ps.

And he did "Dad" the same way,

with a big huge loop.

This signature
didn't have that.

I was looking at it going,
"This isn't his writing."

Shellie is suddenly
filled with anxiety

and can't shake
the horrible feeling

that something is very wrong.

My dad is not calling me back.

This card doesn't look right.

In a panic,
Shellie calls the Bonner County

Sheriff's Department
in Sandpoint

and is grateful
when the small-town deputies

do a welfare check.

Patrol officers
go out to the house.

There's nobody out there.

Didn't find anything,
no sign of a break-in,

no sign of foul play.

And I was like,
"Let me make some more calls."

I got the phone number
to the post office.

Legally, they are not
supposed to tell you

anything about the mail.

But I said, "Look, you know,
my dad just moved there.

Can you just tell me
if he's collecting his mail?"

They finally relented
and said,

"Well, yes, his mail
is getting picked up."

Shellie checks in

with her dad's
financial advisers.

After all, he talks to them

more than almost anyone else.

The woman that I spoke to said,

"He's in touch all the time
and he was--

he was bugging us about
a bond that was becoming mature.

But then,
we couldn't reach him.

We did get an email saying,

'Don't worry about the money.

I met some great new friends,

I'm off to Canada.'"

So, that was the last
they heard of him.

Is it possible
this globetrotting dad

took off to Canada
without telling his daughter?

Everything that was happening

was out of character
for my dad.

He doesn't travel
without communicating.

He doesn't not return
phone calls.

He wouldn't just stop
communicating like this.

She was a little bit panicky.

She wasn't sure
what was going on.

But the behavior pattern
in her mind

made her believe
that something was wrong.

I called my brother
and said,

"I think we should have them
break in," and he agreed.

So, I called the Bonner County
Sheriff's Department again

and said,
"Go ahead and break in."

When officers break in,

they're met with a most
troubling scene.

My God.

I was dumbfounded.

And we see
all these ATM withdrawals.

A hundred dollars,
a hundred and fifty dollars,

two hundred dollars.

A firearm had been fired
in the house.

The check was nothing
more than an act of kindness.

It's been
a worry-filled month

for Shellie Kepley
as she's waited to hear

from her dad, Paul Gruber.

And when local authorities
in Sandpoint, Idaho

break into his home,

they make a baffling discovery.

There was no personal items,

no clothing.

It wasn't anything
that you would expect to see

in a-- in a lived-in home.

Furniture was gone.

Computer was gone.

You know, my God.

You know, his house
was emptied out.

Paul Gruber owned a large
amount of personal property.

The vehicles,
that kind of thing.

A lot of that wasn't present.

A boat over here and a truck
over there, is gone.

This strikes me that

there is not one
single personal paper

anywhere to be found.

There's miscellaneous crap,

but no checks.

I've only found one receipt

for anything purchased.

There's nothing there.

I was dumbfounded.

He was there
about four, five months.

It's plenty of time
to get your stuff arranged

and unpacked.

And your house
shouldn't be empty.

What seems strange to Shellie

doesn't immediately set off
alarms for detectives.

To me it didn't
actually point to a crime.

One of the scenarios
that came to my mind

was a possibility
that he had a girlfriend.

Another possibility
was he was, you know,

doing something
that his daughter Shellie

was unaware of.

There was a whole range

of things that, you know,

could explain
what was going on

at that point.

that something terrible

has happened to her dad,

Shellie can't stop thinking
that he didn't write

the recent birthday card
to her son.

She wanted us
to check the handwriting,

but we needed
to get some samples

of Paul's handwriting.

There was a pile on my desk
that she brought me.

There must have been
40, 50 cards

and we did send them
to the lab.

Will the handwriting
analysis prove someone

other than Paul Gruber
wrote those cards?

The state lab called me
and told me

it appeared to be
Mr. Gruber's handwriting.

It was frustrating
because I was adamant

that it wasn't his writing.

The whole thing
is very distressing

because somebody's telling you
what you know isn't true.

A week later
Shellie's fears worsen

when she receives
some troubling news.

I got a call that
there was an abandoned vehicle

in a parking lot
in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho,

and the license plate number
matched to Paul Gruber.

At that point we made contact
with the state police

and asked them to go down
and process the vehicle.

We ought to find a smudge,

a partial, something.

There was nothing
in this vehicle.

There were no fingerprints
at all.


Somebody really
cleaned it up.

That's odd, but I also have
another problem.

Someone is picking up his mail.

Is there something suspicious
about what's going on?



Can I say something's
happened to Paul Gruber?

No, I can't.

Early on I feel
like nothing was gonna happen

if I didn't push.

I tried to be really
respectful about it,

but when it gets down
to somebody's life and death

you suddenly are,
like, screw it.

I don't care
what you think of me

and I don't care
if you like me,

but I wasn't accepting things
I was told, you know.

I wasn't accepting
that he was traveling.

I just wasn't gonna stop
trying to find my dad.

Under pressure
to solve the case,

detectives head back
to Paul's house.

There must be more clues.

And what they find is bizarre
to say the least.

When we were first
in the house,

there was no carpet
in the dining room.

A short time later

when we go back
into the house,

there's carpet
in the dining room.

So, between our visits
someone's going in the house

and having carpet installed.

When they told me
about the carpet being replaced,

I just thought blood.

We decided
that we were gonna spray

some luminol in the house.

If there's blood somewhere

and you spray
this chemical on it,

it glows.

We started in the dining room.

We have to pull the carpet up
so we could spray,

because we need to meet
the same condition

as what we observed prior

and we came up
with a huge glowing patch.

The whole thing
just glowed like crazy.

And there was obvious marks

as if blood
had been cleaned up.

The scene has taken
an ominous turn.

With suspicious eyes,

investigators now look
for anything unusual.

One of the guys asked me
to move all the carpets

out of the way.

We go to move the carpet
and it's glued down.

I mean, you can't get it up.
It's really down.

I finally gave
one of my detectives permission

to pull it up.

And when he did,

there was a hole in the floor.

And he asked me
to take a look at it

and tell him what it was.

So, I'm looking at this hole
in the floor and I said,

"To me it looks like
a bullet skipped.

A firearm had been fired
in the house."

We decided at that point
we had a crime scene

and that more than likely,

we're looking for a body.

The baffling mystery
of missing Paul Gruber

has left investigators
wondering if he's dead

or possibly still alive.

After making
some disturbing discoveries

in his Sandpoint, Idaho, home,

they now fear the worst.

When we located the blood,

then we cut up the floor,

and located more blood,

we decided at that point
we had a crime scene.

And that more than likely,

Paul Gruber was dead.

What's gonna happen
to somebody

who kills Paul Gruber
at his residence?

How's he gonna get rid
of that body?

So, we believe that maybe
he was buried here

in the house.

I had cadaver dogs
under the house,

three times,

never smelled anything.

So, we went through
all these theories.

Well, maybe he wrapped him up
in the carpet

that was removed
from the residence

and took him down
to a local dumpster.

Maybe he took him out back.

It had be somewhere
outside of the house.

Matching the blood
in the house to Paul Gruber

is crucial to the case

and harrowing for Gruber's
daughter Shellie.

Scott Birch from
the attorney general's office

had come on the case
and he had taken blood samples

of my mom and my brother
and I to cross-match the blood.

When the results
of the blood test come back,

the family's worst fears
are confirmed.

The DNA is a match

with the blood found
at Paul's home.

That was hard because
they hadn't found his body yet.

But in here,

my heart had told me
that he's gone.

And I just started weeping.

I was just, like,
bawling my head off.

best memories with her dad

are those growing up
in Lake Tahoe.

My parents divorced
when I was three.

My dad was the-- the
traditional fun dad, you know.

We'd go miniature golfing
and bowling

and got whatever cereal
we wanted

and go to the beach
and he was just fun.

He was my daddy
and I loved him.

Shellie also loves
her dad's visits

and delights
in the grandpa he's become.

He was just really devoted.

I don't know why
I was surprised,

but I was pleasantly surprised

because he was so engaged.

While devoted to his family,

Paul never loses his spirit
of wanderlust.

My dad decided
to go travel around the world

because he had a heart
for language and-- and travel.

My dad was gregarious
and boisterous

and somebody that kind of
fills the room

and he always liked
to have people over.

With such
a warm, welcoming spirit,

Shellie can't help wonder
whether her dad

may have opened the door
to the wrong person.

With Shellie's dad missing
and feared dead,

police decide to set a trap,

hoping to shed some light
on this baffling case.

Shellie Kepley told us
that somebody was picking up

Paul Gruber's mail.

Local detectives,
in cooperation

with the US Postal
Inspection Service,

set up a surveillance camera
on Paul Gruber's mailbox.

Lo and behold,
we get pictures,

but it's in profile, of a guy

and we don't know who he is.

We have no clue.

It's another stumbling block

in this bizarre case.

Shellie is willing
to do anything

to help find her father,
even if it means

foregoing time
with her own family to do it.

Didn't have a lot of money.

Couldn't be flying up there.

I had a telephone.

It's like the phone warrior.

The TV became the babysitter.

Here's your snacks,
here's your TV,

so that I could get
on the phone.

Shellie's tenacity

was very helpful
in the investigation.

She kept pressing
and pressing and pressing.

Several weeks
into the investigation

Shellie and detectives
finally gain access

to Paul's financial records.

They are all mystified
by the money trail.

We see
all these ATM withdrawals.

A hundred dollars,
a hundred and fifty dollars,

two hundred dollars.

We'd found out
that Paul Gruber's power bill

was up to date.
So, somebody had to be paying.

As an investigator,
if you're looking

at the totality
of the circumstances.

Yes, Paul Gruber's bills
are being paid.

Yes, money's been coming
and going out of his account,

but where's Paul Gruber?

And there's
something else unsettling.

There was checks
written to a couple

of business names.

Detectives look up
the businesses

and learn they're owned
by a man named Darryl Kuehl.

Darryl lives in Sandpoint
and is a 42-year-old

churchgoing father
of seven kids.

The local authorities
were able to determine

that money
from Paul Gruber's accounts

was going to pay
Darryl Kuehl's mortgage.

Detectives are suspicious

to say the least
and, like Shellie, baffled,

having no idea how Darryl
and Paul are connected.

First of all, you have
the right to remain silent.

That means you don't have
to talk to me at all.

Do you understand that?

All right.

Darryl Kuehl,
he had a big family,

been married to the same woman
for a long time.

By and large, he was just
the nicest guy in the world.

Let's get
to the bottom of this.

And that's why I'm here.

Darryl is calm
and very forthcoming

as investigators question
their potential suspect.

Kuehl said that
he's working for Paul Gruber

as a handyman
around the house

and had been for a while.

He said that
he was given access

by Paul Gruber to pay bills

and take care of things
while Gruber

was gone to Canada.

We asked him
if he was picking up the mail

and he said he was.

He even said something
about leaving the vehicle

in Coeur d'Alene.

He had answers
for the questions.

He didn't hesitate.

Wasn't sweating.

Investigators asked Darryl

about the checks
written to him

from Gruber's account.

I'm saying that--

that I received checks
from this Paul Gruber.

We never did get a good answer

why that check
was written other than

Paul Gruber just did it
out of kindness,

which made no sense at all.

Darryl Kuehl looked to me

as though...

he was holding
something back.

I thought that
he wasn't telling us

everything that he knew

about Paul Gruber
and the situation.

Investigators then pose

what may be their
most pivotal question yet.

We showed him
a picture of Paul Gruber

to make sure
that he understood

this was the person
we were talking about.

Do you recognize that guy?

For the first time,

Darryl Kuehl
seems genuinely bewildered.

This is not the guy

that I've been dealing with.

This is not Paul Gruber.

Darryl immediately said,

"Well, that's not
the Paul Gruber I know."

While investigating
the perplexing month-long

of 53-year-old Paul Gruber,

are finally face-to-face

with the man
who's been paying Paul's bills

and picking up his mail.

They ended up
showing Darryl Kuehl

a photo of Paul Gruber.

And Darryl immediately said,

"Well, that's not
the Paul Gruber I know."

As far as I know,

I guess

that there might even be

two Paul Grubers
running around.

I don't know.

So at that point,
you have to consider

the possibility
that someone's been

impersonating Paul Gruber.

Anything's possible.

So we decided to bring
in a composite sketch artist

from the state police

and had him sit down
with Mr. Kuehl

and had Mr. Kuehl
describe this person

that he knew as Paul Gruber.

Oddly enough,
the composite sketch

looks familiar
to everyone in the room.

it looked like the officer

that was working on the sketch.

That was a little strange

but we put it in the paper.

No phone calls, no anything.

It's very unusual
not to get a response

when you put a picture
in the paper.

So, that's pretty odd as well.

At that point, no one else
has drawn our attention.

No one else
has accessed his finances

that we're aware of.

That made it tough,
but took us

towards Darryl Kuehl
as being a suspect

rather than just a witness.

Kuehl agrees
to let investigators

search his property.

We served a search warrant

on Darryl Kuehl

for handwriting, blood,

and we did a search warrant
on his house.

We were looking for missing,

possibly stolen property

from Paul Gruber's residence

and we located property

with Paul Gruber's name on it.

There were bar stools

they found
in the back of a van,

they had pictures of similar
bar stools in Paul's house.

We also found a generator

that had belonged
to Paul Gruber.

who's still willing to speak

to investigators,
doesn't seem at all fazed

and has an answer
for everything.

The generator
and the compressor

were given to me by Mr. Gruber.

I'm an innocent person.

As strange as his story is,

it's also problematic
for investigators.

We had three
potential people.

Paul Gruber,
who hasn't been heard from

for some time,

an impostor,
and Darryl Kuehl.

Even though
he obviously knew

where his house was,
had access to his vehicles,

had access to his finances,
his ATM,

we couldn't prove
that Darryl Kuehl

had actually met
the real Paul Gruber.

That was tough.

That-- that--
that made it tough.

Over the next year,

things get tougher still
for Shellie Kepley.

That stretch of time
was very distressing, um,

because when the phone
would ring, I would think,

"I want that to be my dad,"

you know, and the realization,

the phone was never
gonna ring again, you know.

weary investigators

are no closer
to finding Paul Gruber.

I felt like I was
kind of on a rollercoaster.

I mean,
you'd be going along thinking,

"Okay, we're going here,"
and the next thing,

you're going this way.
And you're--

and you're like,
"Wait a minute.

How did I end up over here
when I started over here?"

I think
there was a lot of wonder

about what happened to him

because his disappearance
was noted

and I don't think people
really knew what the make of it.

I think they were just
trying to process it

and maybe some people
didn't even believe it

because we didn't have
a lot of crime.

I was convinced
that Paul Gruber was dead.

The biggest problem
with the investigation

is we don't have a body.

Without a body,

detectives can't prove

Paul Gruber
has been murdered.

Then out of the blue,

their only suspect
makes a telling move.

Darryl Kuehl
packed up with his family

and went back to his home area

which was near
Gig Harbor, Washington.

To me, that was a clue that
he had done something wrong

because that's normal behavior
for an offender.

It was frustrating.

I wanted them to file charges.

The voices of reason said,

"No, not until we have a body."

We needed evidence
to bring a case to trial.

Investigators are undeterred.

They have to find a clue

connecting Kuehl
to Paul's disappearance.

We served tons
of search warrants,

recovered tons of property.

Kept talking to,
the prosecutor,

"Bring me more, not enough."

In August of 1995,

we were at the end of our rope.

We were running out of leads.

We were doing everything
we can think to do

to bring this case to a close,

to try and find that body.

And we just weren't
having any success.

We were down to the final days,
if you will.

I was afraid
we're never gonna find my dad.

My prayer was,

"God, let a hunter
or a fisherman find him,

you know, just randomly."

Then, in August 1995,

a deputy overhears
frustrated investigators

talking about Paul Gruber

and mentions
he's quite familiar

with Gruber's home.

They decide to take

an officer who had worked

on Gruber's house
at one point.

He was a finish carpenter
and a electrician.

They went in to look,
see if anything had changed.

Perhaps the former carpenter

will notice
something investigators

missed through the years.

He goes through
the crawl space,

take a look at
all the electrical and stuff

and on his way back,

he hollers at the guys
and said,


This wasn't here before,

something's not right."

We had already
excluded the crawl space

because they didn't identify
any burial sites.

But the detectives
decide to dig,

because there's an obvious

depression under the house.

We detected...

the odor of decaying flesh.

I didn't have
to look at anyone else.

Their reaction was evident,

"My God. What do we got?"

My training and experience
in autopsies

told me that
that was a dead body

that they found.

Thirty-one inches at 9:48.

We hit the first indication
of the body.

Some finger bones
were identified.

After nearly two years

of painstakingly searching

for Sandpoint resident
Paul Gruber,

investigators are shocked
to discover a shallow grave

in the crawl space of his home.

All of a sudden,
I pulled up a finger bone.

The fingers and everything
had decayed away,

I mean, the flesh had
and so the fingers

had dropped off,
but that wrist

and the watch on it
was still intact.

And, still ticking.

As we dug that out,

we found the rest
of the remains.

Excavation in this quadrant 14

to further define
the, burial site

and then...

we'll move on from there.

The body was wearing a bathrobe

and is wrapped
in an air mattress.

The head is on generally

south end of the dig.

The body is badly decomposed

and unidentifiable.

- That's it.
- Yeah.

Get here and grab this--
this-- this...

Going to try and slip

a piece of sheet metal

under the body
in order to move him out.

Get that side.

Okay, wait a second.

Well, after we got him
out of there,

we got him transported
for an autopsy.

There were four bullets
in the body.

We found out
through dental records that

that was the body
of Paul Gruber.

Paul's daughter,
Shellie, has dedicated

the last two years of her life

to finding her dad.

The discovery of his body

fills her with both
grief and guilt.

I remember feeling badly

because I was mad at my dad

about being late
with the card.

And it's like--

that it wasn't him at--
at all.

He couldn't do anything.

He was wrapped
in a silver air mattress

which was something we had
floated on in Lake Tahoe,

something that I had memories,
you know, special memories of

and it's like...

bothered me that he was alone.

I had trust that God
was with him,

but there's a part of you that
wishes you could've been there

and you wish you could've,
you know, held him when he died.

The news of a body
buried underneath a home

in this quaint community
spreads like wildfire.

It really caught
people off-guard in town.

There was a lot of astonishment

because they just
couldn't believe

that this would happen in a--

a place like Sandpoint, Idaho.

It was bewildering.

Detectives can finally prove

someone murdered Paul Gruber.

But they still need evidence
to arrest

their only suspect,
Darryl Kuehl.

One of the main
concerns that we had,

even when we found the body,

was the connection between

Darryl Kuehl and Paul Gruber.

We had a great deal
of circumstantial evidence

but we had nobody
who had ever seen

the two of them together.

encouraged anyone

who knows Paul or Darryl
to come forward

with any information
that might help the case.

A friend of Paul Gruber's
came forward.

He had just spent days
in Reno, Nevada

with Paul Gruber
before he disappeared.

And he said,
"I was watching a video

that Paul had of his new digs
in Sandpoint."

Remember, Paul Gruber
was meticulously documenting

his life on video.

And this guy

who he identified
as being his handyman

appeared in that video.

He said that,
"I am at certain

that that person on that video
is Darryl Kuehl."

In what seems like
a miracle moment,

someone has finally
been able to place

Paul Gruber and Darryl Kuehl

There is that link

between Darryl Kuehl
and Paul Gruber,

not Darryl Kuehl
and an impostor.

The consensus
in our unit was,

"Now we're ready
to file charges."

I was convinced
that Darryl Kuehl

was solely responsible

for the murder of Paul Gruber.

The local detective and I

got the warrant executed.

Darryl Kuehl was still living
in Washington.

from the Pierce County

Sheriff's Office went out
to arrest Darryl Kuehl.

Fortunately, he didn't know
we were coming that morning

to arrest him,
because he had an escape plan.

He had a backpack
with his extra clothing,

food, weapons.

It was a kind of
a grab-and-go escape plan.

There was a.22 caliber
firearm found

and a silencer.

The significance
of finding that is that

this is the first gun

that we were able
to identify positively

that fits with the round

that was found
in Paul Gruber's body.

The presumed killer
and conman is finally arrested

for the murder of Paul Gruber

and is transported
back to Idaho.

We got a phone call
that they had arrested Darryl

and that was a huge breakthroug

because we'd waited
a long time and...

we were able to tell everybody
some-- some good news.

If there was a silver lining,
you know?

As good as it is,

proving this
purely circumstantial case

will be a Herculean task
for prosecutors

who fear a jury
might let Kuehl walk

if they don't discover
more evidence.

One day, I'm in
my chief investigator's office

and we were watching
the noon news

and there was a story
came on about the Unabomber,

and that they had identified
the Unabomber

from DNA on the stamps.

It was an epiphany.

And I told my boss,

"We're going to identify

who sent those cards

to Shellie Kepley's family

by the DNA on those stamps."

After arresting Darryl Kuehl

for murdering and burying
Paul Gruber,

investigators fear
they still don't have

the evidence they need
to put him away for good.

Scott Birch called me and said,

"Rob, have you considered taking
the stamp from the envelope,

from the birthday card,

sending it to a DNA
for analysis?"

And I said, "That would be
a fantastic idea."

I got a hold
of the state DNA lab

to help do the DNA profiles

on those stamps.

We got DNA samples
from Darryl Kuehl

and so we sent those in
to see if we could get a match.

Back in those days,
the DNA took maybe three weeks

so we were waiting
on pins and needles.

After waiting
several anxious weeks,

the results come back.

The lab determined that...

Kuehl was the person
that licked those stamps,


And when a new
handwriting analyst concludes

Darryl Kuehl forged
the letters,

they know they have
a solid case.

I was jumping up and down

and telling anybody who would
listen to me about it

because to me,

that was just
the icing on the cake.

You just hear the nail
going into the coffin wood.

I thought,
"Wow, that's sweet."

After three painful years

of living without closure
or justice,

Shellie is anxious
to see Darryl Kuehl tried

for her father's murder.

I just went into
this trial not feeling hopeful.

Part of me was like,
as a believer in God,

I feel like He's not gonna
bring this far and let us down.

But on the other hand, is this
whole circumstantial case--

it's strong to us,

is it gonna be strong
to the jury?

And I just wasn't sure
of that.

Kuehl continues
to maintain his innocence,

but prosecutors lay out
their theory

of how the murder played out.

I believe that Paul Gruber

came upon Darryl Kuehl

perhaps at the post office

or the local gas station,

something like that.

Paul Gruber wasn't shy
about talking to you

and befriending you

and Darryl Kuehl,
ingratiate himself,

"Yeah, you go on vacation.

You go to Reno, we'll take care
of the property for you.

Don't worry about anything.
I'll pick up your mail.

We'll take care of it all."

One theory is that Paul
came home early,

earlier than Darryl expected.

Then Darryl showed up
at the house.

Paul comes out in his bathrobe.

Darryl Kuehl just
simply killed him

because he needed money
and he needed possessions,

so that he decided
to shoot him.

As far as burying the body,

I believe that
Darryl Kuehl panicked

after he shot him, and decided,

"I'm just gonna bury
this guy."

We'll perpetuate
this whole thing,

he's still alive,

until Shellie Kepley
got involved.

I think that
Darryl's motivation

was to adopt Paul Gruber's
lifestyle and his money

as much as he could
get away with it.

The thing that stands out
most to me about this case,

is how bold he was.

He just kept going,
taking the cars

and dropping them
in Coeur d'Alene,

using the ATM,
and here we are,

right behind him
trying to figure out what--

what the hell is going on.

After a three-week trial

and just a day and a half
of deliberations,

the jury finds Darryl Kuehl

guilty of first-degree murder.

It was justice
to find him guilty, you know.

The jury got the picture,
the whole picture.

There was just such
a preponderance of evidence

and they listened, you know.

What stands out
most about this entire case

is how life is sometimes

more weird than fiction.

We had the impostor story,

a witness
with a photographic memory,



victim being buried
under the house.

That's all unbelievable.

And yet it happened.

For Shellie,
the winding road to justice

for a man who stole years
from her dad

is worth every second.

I think my dad
would be proud of me.

I had this vision
of like him on the dock

and him helping me up
out of the boat onto the dock,

like the boat
is like in heaven,

it was, like, symbolic.

And he said to me,

"Good job, you know.

High five, you know."

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