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rashore

The Fager Family Murders

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rashore

This is a new case to me.. I've stumbled across many with my wanderings :) Hope folks enjoy the case!

Quote

On December 31, 1988, Mary Fager returned home to Wichita, Kansas after visiting family for three days. When she walked in the door, she found her husband dead with two bullets in his back. In the basement, she found her nine-year-old daughter Sherri naked and strangled in the hot tub, while her 16-year-old daughter Kelli had been tied up with electrical tape and drowned.

During the ’70s and ’80s in Wichita, there was a sadistic serial killer active who had already massacred a family in 1974. He was known as the BTK killer, later to be identified as Dennis Rader. A few days after the murder, the police got a letter from BTK that said he was a fan of the murderer, but he wasn’t the one who had killed the Fagers. After Rader’s arrest in 2005, it was confirmed that Rader was indeed the one who had written the letter.

The main suspect in the case was a man named William Buttersworth. He was a contractor who had been doing renovations on the Fager’s house at the time of the murder. He was last seen December 29, 1988, and he was found on January 2 driving the Fagers’ car in Florida. He claimed that he couldn’t remember the last two days, so the judge allowed him to be put under hypnosis during the trial. In a hypnotic trance, he admitted that he had been at the Fager’s house, where he’d heard a disturbance and then seen the bodies in the house. Traumatized, he took off in the Fager’s car—to a different state. After a long trial, he was acquitted when only two jurors found him guilty. Simply put, he’d had no motive and there were no witnesses to testify against him. The case remains open to this day, with Buttersworth being the only suspect. His whereabouts are unknown.

 

#6 on Listverse: http://listverse.com/2014/04/29/10-haunting-unsolved-mass-murders/

A few more bits to whet your appetites for this case....

The Wichita Eagle,8/24/13: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article1121424.html

The Wichita Eagle, 11/26/12: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article1103536.html

Court transcript, State vs Butterworth, 5/25/90: http://law.justia.com/cases/kansas/supreme-court/1990/62-810-3.html

Orlando Sentinel, 1/5/88: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1988-01-05/news/0010040128_1_butterworth-wichita-fager

And an odd tidbit from Dennis Rader, the BTK killer.. you have to go way to the bottom of the page for the Fager family action: http://murderpedia.org/male.R/r/rader-dennis-bio-2.htm

Edited by rashore
fixed incorrect link

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Regi

It sounds to me like Butterworth was/is indeed responsible for those murders.

 

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timewarrior
On ‎5‎/‎26‎/‎2016 at 10:27 AM, regi said:

It sounds to me like Butterworth was/is indeed responsible for those murders.

 

Not necessarily. . .it's called a fugue. . .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue_state

also:

http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2011/11/do_you_believe_amber_gerweck_s.html

it is medically possible that the sight of the bodies put him in such a state mentally that something else inside of him took over.   The key is that he drove to another state. . .and, if I am interpreting the post correctly. . .did not know how he got there. . .

probably a copycat of BTK for sure. . .

Edited by timewarrior

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Regi

^ "Copy cat for BTK" makes no sense to me.

 

 

 

 

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GlitterRose
21 hours ago, timewarrior said:

Not necessarily. . .it's called a fugue. . .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue_state

also:

http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2011/11/do_you_believe_amber_gerweck_s.html

it is medically possible that the sight of the bodies put him in such a state mentally that something else inside of him took over.   The key is that he drove to another state. . .and, if I am interpreting the post correctly. . .did not know how he got there. . .

probably a copycat of BTK for sure. . .

It's really surprising to me that he wasn't convicted. Even if he did suffer a fugue state and wasn't really the culprit, a jury is very difficult to convince of anything like that. It was overwhelmingly clear that Dahmer was mentally ill, but they still found him "sane" and sentenced him to life (and death at the hands of another inmate).

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Regi

It doesn't make sense to me that anyone would buy the amnesia story because I think one would then have to completely ignore (what I find to be) highly incriminating behavior and circumstances; I think they'd have to do the same to even consider that it could even possibly be true.

Edited by regi

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Aftermath

In my opinion, if Butterworth would have merely fled the murder scene in the Fager car and that was that, ok I might be able to buy his story.  But that isn't the case; not only did he flee in their car but he went to Florida (several states away) AND he stole and used a credit card from them.

GUILTY

 

 

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freetoroam

It seems Butterworth did have financial problems......not that is a sign of being guilty, but it could have been a motive. But the verdict the jury reached seems to have been based on lack of evidence and that the jury believed his wife, family and priest when they said he was innocent......

I believe the prosecution were convinced the jury would find him guilty because there were no other suspects...others had already been eliminated,  the prosecution did not give the jury enough to convince them.

Butterworth was at the house, how could he have not seen or heard anything until it was too late and the 'murderer' had already gone....the house was ransacked, but it was Butterworth who made off with the car. 

Who else would have know putting Kelli into the hottub would not have been witnessed from the neighbours, but the man who was almost finished building the sun room which contained the hottub? Butterworth.

I believe he did it and panicked,  he did not have any prior convictions.

 

http://genealogytrails.com/kan/sedgwick/fagers.html

 

 

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freetoroam

Just one more thing, the Fager family home was a one storey house, Butterworth, if innocent could not have been in the basement working, for obvious reasons, so if someone had been there and ransacked the house as well as shot the father and murder the 2 girls, not only did the neighbours not see anyone else there, neither did he.??

 the killer must have spent some time there, and yet no one saw anything, and nothing was missing...apart from Butterworth and the car.

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Regi

Butterworth's van was parked seven blocks away...wha? Hello?

So evidently, he remembered actually having been there when the murders took place...yet he didn't remember anything which could be considered incriminating on his part...

It appears to me that it's at such time in which the dreaded, very problematic fog will come rolling in...:whistle:(ref. Arias case.)

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freetoroam

He remembered his home phone number because he had called his wife from a payphone. So it was a selected memory loss.

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clouseau

During one of his hypnosis sessions, his last session, Butterworth stated that he had heard a sound. He thought that the sound had originated from the basement and also speculated that it might have been the Fager's dog. When asked what the sound was, he described it as being a "bump or something". He describes moving closer to the basement. At this point during the hypnosis, he begins to cry heavily and says "it's not the dog". "I thought that there was somebody down there.... I'm so scared". It's at this point that he exits the house and leaves in the Fager's car. There is no indication that police or the prosecutors office had investigated anyone else being at the scene. This might be one reason the jury decided to acquit Butterworth. 

My theory on the sequence of events of that night, without speculating as to whom the killer or killers might be, go something like this - Mr. Fager was out. Kelli, the 16 year old daughter came upon the killer in the solarium and confronted him. From Butterworth's tools, which were probably left at the scene, the killer removes a role of electrical tape from the tool box and begins to bind Kelli's hands. About that time, Sherri, the 9 year old walks into the room, maybe hearing her sister crying. The killer panics, and begins pushing Kelli's head underwater in the hot tub. It's unclear as to weather or not Sherri ran, but as soon as the killer was done with Kelli, his attention turned to Sherri. He was probably in the process of assaulting her when he heard the family car drive into the drive way. He kills the little girl and awaits Mr. Fager. The fact that he is the only victim that was shot and that his keys were next to the body says that his killing was hasty.

Now, if Butterwoth is to be believed, he returned to the house to find the victims. He stated that Fager's car and house keys were next to Mr. Fager's body. At this point, he hears sounds coming from the basement and investigates. Soon after he runs from the house. He stated that he first tried his van but his key wouldn't work in the ignition. It was then that he realized that he had Fager's keys in his hand and that it was those keys that he was trying to use. He exited his van and removed some clothing he had bought earlier that day from the back of the van. He then proceeded to take the Fager's car.

As to why he didn't go home, he states that he felt like a coward for running from the house. But he also didn't call the police. He just kept driving. He heard a radio broadcast regarding the murders and called his wife, I believe two days later. She told him that the police were looking for him. Police in Florida apprehended him while he was on a pay phone talking to his wife, according to media reports. Her phone was probably being monitored by Wichita Police.

His guilt in this case is hard to determine. The fact that it seems that investigators focused solely on him and no one else is problematic. Yeah, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence that points to him, there isn't much else. Were there any prints on the adhesive side of the electrical tape Kelli Fager was bound with? Where's the gun used to kill Mr. Fager? Was there any Gun Shot Residue on Mr. Butterworth or on the handle or steering wheel of his van? These questions and probably many more throw reasonable doubt on the states case. My opinion, people in the Wichita area were still freaked out at this point in time about the BTK killer. The state probably wanted to show that that case was an aberration and that crime would be dealt with swiftly.

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MFager

I am shocked by how many people are interested in this case still. I am actually a fager and that was my uncle and cousins.  I have heard alot of people thoughts on this but all we ever wanted was justicefor our family and for my father who lost his brother.

I bet that if this case was re-open now and all the dna testing and technology we have now no doubt Butterworth would he found guilty. 

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cluey

Ohhh....please......thats a s bad a s saying i sleep walk....and sometimes do strange things.......and just because i cant verify my where abouts at the time,,,,,,but took their family car........a jury found him by majority not guilty............DNA testing should be done now.....

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