Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
2nd murder conviction, 2nd life sentence for Utah inmate
Courts » Gary Hilfilker admitted to killing a South Salt Lake woman in 1989.
First Published Jun 13 2014 03:38 pm • Last Updated Jun 13 2014 10:30 pm

Gary Dean Hilfiker is not the same man today that he was in 1989, when he killed a woman by stabbing her 11 times in her South Salt Lake home.

He’s found religion, his attorney told a judge Friday, and wants to take responsibility for his actions — even his misdeeds of 25 years ago.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It’s not uncommon for me to hear about people who have changed their life or found religion in prison," defense attorney Patrick Corum said Friday during Hilfiker’s sentencing hearing. "[Usually,] I don’t know how deeply felt it is. But Gary, for quite some time, has dedicated his life to religious causes. By all accounts, it is utterly and completely genuine."

It took more than two decades for DNA test results to link Hilfiker, 56, to the October 1989 slaying of 71-year-old Flora Rundle. Charges were filed in early May, and just 28 days later, Hilfiker pleaded guilty to first-degree felony aggravated murder. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors took the possibility of the death penalty off the table and recommended that Hilfiker’s new life term runs concurrently with one he is already serving for an unrelated murder in 1992.

Corum said the first thing his client told him when they met was that he wanted to plead guilty to the charge.

"He would have walked into this court as soon as possible and pleaded guilty, even with death penalty on the table," Corum said.

The defense attorney said Hilfiker did have some things he wanted to say to Rundle’s family, but since they were not present in court on Friday, the defendant kept his comments brief.

"When I was using drugs and alcohol, I wasn’t the same man I am now, by any stretch," Hilfiker told the judge. "I’m very sorry for this."

Third District Judge Deno Himonas ultimately followed the prosecutors’ recommendation, and sentenced Hilfiker to another life term in prison, and ordered the sentence to run concurrent to his first life sentence.

Family members of Rundle found her body inside her home Oct. 22, 1989, after they hadn’t heard from her for a few days, according to the Unified Police Department. She had been stabbed and suffered blunt force trauma, according to court records.

story continues below
story continues below

Detectives at the time could find no suspects, police wrote. But UPD last year received federal funds to reopen the case and found DNA evidence that was collected from Rundle.

Investigators learned that Rundle typically used taxis for transportation, and that Hilfiker was a cabdriver who had driven Rundle several times, police wrote.

Hilfiker, interviewed in prison, admitted to killing Rundle, police wrote in court documents. He said he was confronted by Rundle, so he stabbed her and took "a couple hundred dollars" from her purse, police wrote.

Hilfiker previously was convicted of murder and aggravated arson in the 1992 death of 38-year-old Marsha Haverty, for which he is serving up to life in prison.

Hilfiker stabbed Haverty up to 10 times in her Salt Lake City home, poured kerosene over her and set her body ablaze.

At a 2010 parole hearing, Hilfiker told the Board of Pardons and Parole that he killed Haverty, who was his friend, in a drug-fueled, "discombobulated state" when she tried to talk him out of killing himself.

Hilfiker said he was despondent after a failed romance, and in trying to talk him out of suicide, Haverty and Hilfiker began arguing over Hilfiker’s drug use.

The board had given Hilfiker a parole date in 2022, but the second life sentence means Hilfiker will probably never leave prison.


Twitter: @jm_miller

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.