Paul Gruber Murder: Where is Darryl Kuehl Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘A Body in the Basement: Missing Means Murder’ features how a 52-year-old retired teacher, Paul Gruber, was murdered in early 1994 in Sandpoint, Idaho. The perpetrator posed as the victim and continued to siphon money out of him until his daughter got suspicious and notified the authorities. If you’re interested in learning more about the case, including the killer’s identity and current whereabouts, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?

How Did Paul Gruber Die?

Paul William Gruber was born in Schofield in Marathon County, Wisconsin, on December 4, 1941. After more than 20 years of teaching, he retired early and moved to the quaint town of Sandpoint, Idaho. The picturesque setting on the shore of Muskrat Lake was his dream come true at only the age of 52. Paul visited his daughter, Shellie Kepley, in Reno, Nevada, for Christmas and spent December 1993 with her and her husband. According to reports, he returned home to Sandpoint on January 5, 1994, and was never heard from again.

The show noted how Shellie first became suspicious when she received a birthday card for her child from Paul in January 1994. She quickly detected deviations from her father’s usual charm and handwriting and shared her apprehensions with her husband. They even retrieved previously received cards for comparison before agreeing the recent birthday card was inconsistent and suspicious. Shellie called Paul’s friend and neighbor, Kathy Hampton, and told her he was not picking up calls and the voice message recording did not match her father’s.

After trying unsuccessfully to contact Paul for the following few weeks, the concerned daughter filed a missing person’s report on February 28, 1994. The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office conducted a welfare check and found no signs of a break-in. However, Paul and his belongings, including his car, seemed to have disappeared without a trace. An investigation into the disappearance led the officers to his badly decomposed body in the crawl space beneath a home on August 23, 1995. Eventually, an autopsy revealed four gunshot wounds to the body as the cause of death.

Who Killed Paul Gruber?

After Shellie reported her father missing, the investigators visited Paul’s Muskrat Lake residence and initially noticed no signs of foul play. What was concerning was the home was virtually empty of any furniture or personal belongings. The officers issued a BOLO for Paul’s Ford pickup truck, and the vehicle was discovered abandoned around an hour’s drive from his residence. The authorities thoroughly checked the car but found no prints or forensic evidence. However, they were concerned since Paul’s bank accounts showed large transactions.

Despite Paul not being seen in months, the detectives checked his bank records to discover over $22,000 had been withdrawn in two weeks from several ATMs. Shellie told the police her father never used ATMs, and the officers began to wonder who was siphoning his money, paying his bills, and even sending checks. According to the show, Shellie called the Post Office and inquired whether her father’s mail had been stacking up, only to learn someone was picking them up. Hence, the authorities installed a camera on the premises to catch the man.

In early March 1994, the police caught the individual on tape — he was identified as Darryl Robin Kuehl. He came to the station voluntarily and told the officers he and Paul were involved in a business venture. Darryl claimed the last time he saw the victim was on February 18, 1994. However, the authorities were shocked when he was shown Paul’s picture, and he claimed that the person in the photograph was not the Paul he knew, implying he must have been dealing with an imposter. Consequently, Darryl helped create a composite sketch of the alleged con man.

The authorities distributed the composite sketch across all Idaho law enforcement agencies and sought public assistance in identifying the man. Meanwhile, the officers comprehensively searched Paul’s house and property on April 17 to make a peculiar discovery — someone had glued a rug to the hardwood floor. They immediately pulled it up to locate an unusual gouge in the wood, consistent with the damage caused by a ricocheting bullet. The forensic investigators noted the mark tested positive for gunshot residues.

When the authorities tested the area underneath and surrounding the rug with luminol, blood stains, which tested positive for Paul, emerged. However, they found no trace of a body despite extensively searching with cadaver dogs. The police again turned their attention toward Darryl and found that all of Paul’s withdrawn money was sent to various companies he owned or managed. He tried to defend himself by concocting an absurd tale that the victim had taken a trip to Canada and asked him to pay his bills.

The detectives compared Darryl’s handwriting with the signatures on checks and the birthday card sent to Shellie’s child to determine it was his writing. Furthermore, the investigators extracted DNA from the back of the postage stamps attached to the cards sent to the child. They compared it with Darryl’s DNA and confirmed that the suspect had sent those cards. Confident that he was involved in Paul’s disappearance, the police executed a search warrant for his home in late August 1995 and discovered the victim’s decomposed remains.

Where is Darryl Kuehl Now?

According to the show, Darryl had not seemingly considered bodies losing volume as they decompose and thus created a newly-formed depression in the ground. It helped the police locate Paul’s remains quickly, and he was arrested and charged with murder, grand theft, and five counts of forgery. A search of Darryl’s home also revealed dozens of items missing from the victim’s residence, including a 25-foot boat, a truck, tools, televisions, videos, and a cellular telephone. While awaiting trial, the show noted how he attempted to escape from custody by offering other inmates $15,000 for killing the transporting officers.

However, Darryl’s cellmates disbelieved him and notified the authorities about his escape plan. During his May 1997 trial, the prosecution accused him of murdering Paul for financial gain. Prosecutor Scott James alleged while pointing at him, “This is the fake Paul Gruber and the real murderer in this case. After cold-bloodedly killing Paul, he stole his car, boat, truck, and forged checks, just so he could keep the charade alive to keep looting the man he killed.” Despite maintaining his innocence, Darryl was convicted on all counts and sentenced to life without parole. The 72-year-old remains incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Institution.

Read More: Shannon Siders Murder: Where Are Paul and Matthew Jones Now?