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Body discovered in burned barn


Earlier today, Thursday, Colorado Department of Corrections Fugitive Operations alerted the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office that a subject wanted for escape was likely in the Mount Princeton area south of Buena Vista.  The subject, David Butler, age 46, was wanted on an original charge of homicide and was said to have “violent tendencies.”

Deputies located an unoccupied pickup truck registered to Butler in a field off County Road 321 in the Mount Princeton area and initiated a search for Butler who was thought to be on foot. 

At about 3:30pm, Undersheriff John Spezze noticed smoke coming from a small barn nearby and called for the fire department to respond.  Arriving a few minutes later, firefighters from the Chaffee County Fire Protection District found the barn completely engulfed in flames.  Firefighters extinguished the blaze and in the process discovered the body of an adult male inside.  The barn was completely destroyed and the body was burned beyond recognition.

Chaffee County Coroner Randy Amettis examined the body at the scene after which the body was removed to the county morgue.  An autopsy is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow, Friday.  The body has not been positively identified. 

The search for Butler continued until darkness prevented further efforts.

The fire is under investigation by investigators from the sheriff’s office, the Chaffee County Fire Protection District, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

Other agencies involved in the operation were the Buena Vista and Salida police departments, the Buena Vista Correctional Facility, Chaffee EMS, Colorado State Patrol, Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, and the local office of the district attorney.

3 Comments for this entry

Mike Lockett
March 12th, 2012 on 11:24 am

So should those of us in Chalk Creek still be worried about the bad guy running around? Thank you.

Debbie Butler
March 12th, 2012 on 4:23 pm

My brother was NOT an “escapee”. He paroled to Colorado after serving 9 years of a 4-12 year sentence for 2nd degree manslaughter. He served another 2 years on parole in Summit County without incident. He had 1 year of parole left. Yes, he took a life. An unfortunate incident that resulted in the death of another human being. He served his time, he paid the price for his actions. And now he has paid the ultimate price. For some people that will never be enough.
Last week he was involved in a traffic altercation, panicked and left the county.
My brother was a caring, loving man. He was not a violent, homocidal person roaming the streets of your town.
I apologize for any inconvience the reverse 911 calls may have caused you. But at no time were you or any of your citizens in any danger.

    Chaffee County Sheriff
    March 14th, 2012 on 12:23 pm

    We stand by the accuracy of the original press release issued the evening of Thursday, March 8, shortly after the body was discovered in the burned barn and the search suspended for the evening.

    Earlier that day we had received two fax transmissions from the Colorado Division of Adult Parole Supervision describing David Butler as “an escapee from the Colorado Department of Corrections” and advising that the “current conviction is homicide.” We also received that same afternoon a “hit confirmation” from CCIC, the state crime computer system, listing David Butler as a wanted person for “flight – escape” by the Colorado Department of Corrections and authorizing nationwide extradition. It further cautioned that Butler has “violent tendencies” and listed the original charge as “homicide.” That information was the basis for our issuing a public alert, and for the press release which contained factual information as we knew it at the time.

    Although we strongly believed that the body was that of David Butler, absent any positive identification we could not publicly confirm that, leading unfortunately to the public perception that Butler was still loose and a threat to the community. It was not until Monday that the body was positively identified as Butler, and the coroner released that information to the public immediately.

    Reports published and broadcast by our local media were based on information released by this office, and were accurate in that regard. A Denver Post article claimed, inaccurately, that Butler was an escapee from the Buena Vista Correctional Facility. It is not known where the Post got their information, but it did not come from this agency nor from the correctional facility. Another newspaper report said that Butler had been charged with murder, a term never used by this agency in any press release or in any response to a reporter’s query.