Phelps County resident shoots home invader

Discussion in 'Legal' started by CommonSense, Feb 9, 2004.

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  1. CommonSense

    CommonSense Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Milwaukee, WI

    By R.D. Hohenfeldt Staff Writer - A neighbor who invaded a couple's home late Friday night and shot them in their bed was shot to death by the man who defended himself and his wife.
    Pronounced dead of apparent gunshot wounds at the scene was home invader David W. Brown, 45, who was facing charges for harassing and stalking the couple.

    Injured were James Butler, 48, who suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, and his wife, Suzanne Butler, 44, who suffered a gunshot wound to the left arm.

    The Butlers were taken to the Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla. Mrs. Butler was later transferred to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis while Butler remained at PCRMC.

    Called at the hospital by the Daily News, Butler said late Saturday morning that his wife had been released from Barnes Hospital and was on her way back to Phelps County. He said he expected to be released later in the day.

    The investigation continues by the Phelps County Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigation Unit and the Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime.

    Year's second shooting

    The second Phelps County shooting of 2004 occurred at approximately 11 p.m. Friday in the Butler's home in the 20000 block of County Road 5430, which is near the Dent County line.

    Phelps County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Mark Williams said the 911 call was received by Central Communication at Rolla Police Department at 11:02 p.m.

    Sheriff's deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers answered the call.

    "Upon arrival officers found one man dead and a man and woman suffering from gunshot wounds," Williams said in a statement released to the press.

    Williams said Brown had forced his way into the Butler home. He was armed with a .22 caliber rifle and a .22 caliber handgun, gloves and extra ammunition.

    "Brown then began firing shots at Mr. and Mrs. Butler. James Butler retrieved a handgun and fired at David Brown striking him several times," Williams said.

    The Butlers had been the victims of Brown's harassment over the past year, Williams said, and at the time of his death Brown was wanted in Phelps County for second-degree burglary, first-degree trespassing, resisting arrest and violation of an ex-parte order.

    "These charges all stem from complaints made by the Butlers," Williams said. "Officers from the Phelps County Sheriff's Department had attempted on several occasions to arrest Brown but could not locate him."

    Neighbor hired for odd jobs

    Butler, in a telephone interview from his hospital bed, told the Daily News that he hired Brown some "three or four years ago" to do occasional odd jobs around the Butler place, such as cutting grass and hauling brush.

    Brown was a neighbor who lived "down the road" from the Butlers, and the working relationship was all right for awhile. He wasn't a full-time caretaker but did the work on an as-needed basis when called.

    The problems started "over a year ago" when the Butlers caught Brown "window-peeking," Butler said.

    "And then it got progressively worse," Butler said, with Brown making threats, unwanted phone calls and home break-ins.

    Butler said he believes Brown entered the couple's home many times and prowled around while they were out.

    "My wife came home and caught him in the house on Christmas Eve," Butler said. Brown assaulted and injured Mrs. Butler at that time.

    Butler said he was dissatisfied with the sheriff's department's handling of the harassment and frustrated with the deputies' inability to find Brown and arrest him on the warrants.

    "I saw him every day for the last three days. You can't find anybody if you don't look for them," Butler said.

    Butler said he feared that an incident would occur as it did Friday night. He said he had pleaded with deputies to find Brown "before something like this happened."

    Butler, the business representative for the Carpenter's Union Local No. 2298, said Brown kicked in the back door and entered the house with the firearms.

    "I got shot in my bed," Butler said. "When a man knocks the door in and starts shooting you and your wife, you've got a right to shoot back."

    Sister may have hid him

    Asked if Butler is under investigation and if there is a chance he might be arrested, Sgt. Williams said, "No, not at all."

    Williams said he understands Butler's frustration over the lack of an arrest. He said deputies had gone to Brown's residence several times recently but each time, he was gone.

    "We think his sister has been hiding him," Williams told the Daily News. "We are seeking charges against her of harboring a fugitive or obstruction of justice."

    Brown's sister, Jane Elizabeth Helgersen, 40, of the 1100 block of County Road 5430, was arrested at 11:22 p.m. Friday at the Butlers' home on charges of failure to obey a lawful order and resisting arrest.

    Helgersen lives near the Butlers; although the siblings Brown and Helgersen did not live in the same home, their houses were on the same property, Williams added.

    "She apparently heard it on the scanner and went to the (Butlers') house," Williams said. "She was arrested immediately after officers arrived."
  2. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Alma Illinois
    Another version.....

    Couple fend off home invader
    By Bill Bryan
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    James and Suzanne Butler had retired for the night Friday when a man who they say had been harassing them for a year kicked in their back door and rushed into their bedroom, armed with a rifle and a handgun.

    "He was shooting with the rifle as soon as he came into the bedroom," Butler said in a telephone interview Sunday from his home outside Rolla, Mo. "My wife grabbed the barrel and she got shot, but it allowed me the time to get my gun" from a nightstand drawer.

    Butler fired several shots, killing David W. Brown, 45.

    "We're very, very lucky," said Butler, 48, who was grazed on the neck. "My wife saved my life by giving me the time to get my gun."

    Suzanne Butler, 44, was shot through the hand and upper forearm. Both Butlers were treated and released from the hospital.

    "It's certainly a bizarre case," said Sgt. Mark Williams of the Phelps County sheriff's office. "It's like something out of the movies."

    About three years ago, James Butler said the couple took pity on Brown, who lived a half-mile from them in a trailer with no electricity and no running water. The Butlers, who live in a rural area about 15 miles southeast of Rolla, gave Brown some odd jobs to do - cutting the grass, clearing out brush.

    But then one day in February a year ago, Suzanne Butler reported seeing the man outside her home peering through the window.

    Butler said that after telling Brown to stay away, the couple's nightmare began. They were harassed by phone calls with immediate hangups, more suspected peeping, honking horns from passing vehicles and home break-ins while they were away. On Christmas Eve, Suzanne Butler scuffled with Brown when she arrived home and found him coming out of her house.

    "Things were getting worse and escalating. Like a moth to a flame, (Brown) wasn't going to go away," James Butler said.

    The violent climax happened about 11 p.m. Friday night when Brown broke into the couple's home and confronted the Butlers. Moments later, he was dead and the Butlers were wounded.

    At the time, Brown was wanted on warrants for burglary, trespassing and other charges related to the Christmas Eve incident.

    "We've tried to arrest him a few times, but he was elusive," said Sgt. Williams.

    "The Butlers thought something like this might happen, and they're a little upset with us for not having arrested him."

    Williams said the Butlers will not face any charges. He called Suzanne Butler's actions "pretty heroic."

    James Butler is a business representative in several counties for a carpenters union. Suzanne Butler works part time at a tanning salon in Rolla.

    After the first report of window-peeping, Phelps County authorities went to arrest Brown, but he barricaded himself in his trailer, threatening to kill himself or any deputy who approached. "A negotiator finally convinced him to surrender," Williams said.

    Brown underwent a psychiatric examination at a local hospital, and a doctor declared him mentally fit and not a danger to himself or others. Meanwhile, Suzanne Butler got a court order of protection against Brown, but she started getting harassing phone calls at work, her husband said.

    James Butler said he hopes for an end to an ugly chapter in the couple's life, but he said he can't be sure. Less than two weeks ago, Butler said he had a confrontation with some relatives of Brown's who were driving by his house and had stopped to curse him.
    Reporter Bill Bryan
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: 314-340-8950
  3. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    See? That proves it: only cops need guns.
  4. CommonSense

    CommonSense Member

    Oct 28, 2003
    Milwaukee, WI
    Makes you want to put your life in the hands of law enforcement.
  5. JitsuGuy

    JitsuGuy Member

    Apr 20, 2003
    Until I meet a police officer who is omni-present, I'm keeping my guns.

  6. Andrew Rothman

    Andrew Rothman Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    It's a good thing that he attacked the Butlers at home. It's still illegal to carry a gun in Missouri.
  7. JitsuGuy

    JitsuGuy Member

    Apr 20, 2003
    Man, that sucks, and I really liked Missouri too...
  8. clange

    clange Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    I live in Rolla. That was like 15 miles out of town, middle of nowhere. HP has a HQ here, and the sheriff, but who knows how long it took for them to respond. Talk about being on your own (as if theres much of a difference in 2 minutes or 10).
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