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Mother’s murder reveals dark secrets — Was one the name of her killer?

Posted at 11:27 AM, Mar 07, 2014

The investigation into the murder of a mother of three reveals she had secrets. Was one of them the name of her killer? Watch “48 Hours” Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS 6. 

(CBS) — Tracy Smith and “48 Hours” investigate the murder of a Colorado mother of three who allegedly went for a walk during a blizzard taking family secrets with her and was later found dead in a nearby river in “The Blue River Murder.”

The police investigation into the death uncovered secrets: a marriage on the brink of collapse, an emotional affair, a woman concerned for her safety and who may have known the name of her killer.

Stephanie Roller and Dale Bruner.

Stephanie Roller and Dale Bruner.

Stephanie Roller was a modern dancer and a loving mother when one night just before Thanksgiving in 2010 she packed up her laptop and headed out for a walk during a blizzard, according to her husband, Dale Bruner. He waited 11 hours to call police to report she was missing. There were no leads, no footprints in the snow, and most of all, no Stephanie.

“We called everybody that we can call that we know of,” Dale Bruner tells Smith. “I’ve got the kids at the house at this point. Mommy didn’t come home. I don’t know what to tell the kids. You can’t tell them anything. You don’t know anything. I’m scared.”

Friends of the couple found the story of Stephanie’s walk a bit strange. The police had questions, too.

“Each day that we looked into Stephanie’s life we learned many things,” Silverthorne, Colo., Police Det. Theresa Barger says. “We learned that Stephanie had secrets. She was very scared. She was scared for her life.”

Barger set out to find Stephanie. But she was never seen alive again. Three days after Roller was reported missing, she was found dead in the Blue River, the victim of a brutal murder. Police believe she was badly beaten and still alive when she was thrown into the frigid river.

The investigation into what happened to Roller revealed that she was having an emotional affair with a local man, who was also married. She also confessed to Dale she wanted out of their marriage. Police soon whittled down the list of suspects to three – the jilted husband, the victim’s married boyfriend and the boyfriend’s jealous wife.

Eight months later, Dale Bruner was indicted for the murder of his wife.

“I asked my best friend and looked him in the eye and said, ‘Did you have anything to do with this,’” Bruner’s friend, Brad Olivanti, tells “48 Hours.” And he looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘no.’”

Was Dale Bruner telling the truth? Smith and “48 Hours” piece together Stephanie Roller’s story through interviews with Barger, Bruner, the couple’s friends and prosecutors.