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Former girlfriend testifies against accused killer

By Nathan Hardin
nhardin@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY – Tamara Propst glanced only once at one-time boyfriend Larry Wayne Call during her testimony for the prosecution Wednesday.
She quickly refocused on the district attorneys, who questioned her about the two days before Kevin Michael Rufty was found stabbed to death in his vehicle on Grubb Ferry Road in 2010.
Authorities believe Call killed Rufty after learning Propst and Rufty had been intimate the night before.
Call is on trial for first-degree murder.
Propst described her relationship with Call as “rocky” in the days leading up to the murder.
Propst, who said in court she was a former prostitute and drug user, testified she was planning to leave Call. She said she packed a bag and left the couple’s home on Miller Street in Faith after Call learned of a sexual relationship between her and Rufty.
Rufty was found dead the same day, prosecutors said.
On June 26, 2010, Propst said, she used drugs with friends and got drunk in a hotel room near Bendix Drive.
Rufty and Propst left to find somewhere private, she said, and they went to a spot by a lake, where they parked Rufty’s car. She could not remember which lake.
Propst said they had sex, and Rufty tried a sex act that upset her, spurring a heated argument.
She told a friend later that night about the argument, and the following morning she discussed it again with friends.
During the conversation, Propst said, Call came to the house where she was staying and demanded to know who she had been with.
Propst told the court several people at the home knew Rufty and one of them provided the 52-year-old’s phone number to Call.
Prosecutors argued Wednesday that Call was upset after losing his job and then his on-again-off-again longtime girlfriend, so he called Rufty and asked for a ride.
Call told Rufty he wanted to buy drugs, Propst said, and needed transportation to get there.
Call brought a cooler of beer with him into Rufty’s white Buick LeSabre, Propst said, and the two left.
Later that day, Call frantically phoned Propst several times, she said.
“He told me he needed me to come get him, and that he had stabbed a guy in the neck and then stabbed him in the chest eight or 10 times,” Propst told the court.
Call has since told authorities he was fishing when the murder occurred.
First responders testified in court that Rufty was dead when they arrived. He had several stab wounds to his chest, arms and neck, they said.
Authorities believe Rufty was attacked as he drove down Grubb Ferry Road near Hollywood Drive. He continued to drive a short distance farther after the attack, but crashed the car and died.
As prosecutors kicked off the trial Wednesday morning, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook started with Betty Gillespie, Rufty’s mother.
Gillespie’s voice cracked when prosecutors asked her how many children she had Wednesday.
“I had three sons,” Gillespie said.
She now has one.
Rufty’s brother, Stuart “Craig” Rufty, was killed in a motorcycle crash just six weeks before the murder.
Gillespie told the court she spoke to Kevin Rufty shortly before church service Sunday, June 27, 2010.
He told her he would be home in time for supper, she said.
“He was upbeat,” she said. “He just sounded like Kevin.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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