Charges filed, new details released in homicide of young Utah couple
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has released the charges filed against a suspect in the shooting deaths of a West Jordan husband and wife on April 18, as well as other previously undisclosed details in the case.
Albert Enoch Johnson, 31, was arrested on April 22 in connection with the deaths of Katherine and Tony Butterfield, ages 30 and 31, in their own home. The Butterfields’ three children, age six months to 4 years, were found unhurt in the residence, which showed signs of forced entry.
Johnson’s apprehension came four days later, at about 2 a.m. in Stockton, California. Tips placed him in that city, and he was arrested by police there and U.S. Marshals stationed in California, with assistance from Utah-based U.S. Marshals.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Gill said the DA’s office had just filed charges against Johnson of:
- Two counts of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
- Two counts of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony
- Two counts of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony
- Aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony
- Two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony
- Obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
Gill said Johnson was previously convicted of a violent felony in the Superior Court of Sacramento, and thus he is a convicted felon and subject to enhancements for the aggravated kidnapping charges. Gill said that Johnson may face the death penalty because of the aggravated murder charges.
Gill also outlined the case itself, saying that at approximately 1:15 a.m. April 18, officers responded to the area of 6920 S. 3300 West on reports of shots fired and a woman screaming.
“When the officers arrived in the area they found the lights on in the residence at 3277 W. 6920 South. Officers were unable to contact anyone at the front door, so they made entry through the backyard, where they found a deceased male and a deceased female, later identified as Tony and Katherine Butterfield,” Gill said. “Three children were also located inside the residence, ages six months, two years and four years old.”
The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner subsequently performed autopsies on the couple and found the preliminary cause of death for Tony Butterfield was a single gunshot wound to the head, and his manner of death was homicide. The preliminary cause of death for Katherine Butterfield was a single gunshot wound to the torso, and her manner of death was homicide.
“Forensic and digital evidence was collected on scene and the surrounding area which led the investigators to identify Albert Johnson as the suspect,” Gill said. “Detectives received information that Johnson had sustained stab wounds to his body during his altercation with Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield. During a search of Johnson’s apartment, blood was located in several areas of the home and a shotgun was located in Johnson’s residence.”
The suspect’s clothing and shoes that he was allegedly wearing at the time of the homicides, all of which were stained with blood, were retrieved from a dumpster near his home after allegedly being placed there by his wife on the morning of the homicides.
Johnson fled to California that same morning, Gill said. A witness was able to provide an exact location where Johnson was staying in Stockton, California and that information was provided to U.S. Marshals, who took him into custody. The car Johnson was believed to be driving was also located.
“Post Miranda, Johnson admitted that he was the person who killed the Butterfields,” Gill said. “Johnson stated that he knew the Butterfields and he believed they had money. He stated that he had been worried about his own finances so he went to the Butterfield’s home to ‘get money.’ When he arrived at their home he covered his face with a mask and kicked in the door. He indicated that he pointed a gun at Tony and told him he just wanted money.”
Gill clarified that Johnson was not an employee of the Butterfields, but was known to them.
Johnson told detectives he left with $20 and two cell phones. He left the house and cut through a neighbor’s yard where he discarded the two cell phones, Gill said.
“When he got to his car he removed his mask and realized he did not have his car keys,” Gill said. “He returned to the Butterfield’s house and Tony was standing inside the door. Tony saw Johnson without his mask on and addressed Johnson by his first name, and asked him why. Tony then started stabbing Johnson to prevent him from coming back into the house. Johnson said it was so painful that he shot Tony. Katherine began screaming and Johnson thought he saw a neighbor nearby so Johnson shot Katherine.”
The suspect then went into the Butterfield’s house and retrieved his keys. He allegedly fled the residence and went to his own apartment where he changed his clothes and left for California. He told a detective he threw the gun he allegedly used to shoot the Butterfields into the Sacramento River.
“Surveillance video of inside the (Butterfield’s) residence was obtained by the detectives and appears to show Johnson entering the upstairs of the home, forcing Tony and Katherine out of bed in their undergarments, and taking them to the lower level of the house. Johnson can also be heard on the audio demanding money from Tony and Katherine.”
Johnson has been extradited from California and is now being held at Salt Lake County Jail.
West Jordan Police Chief Ken Wallentine, visibly emotional during the press conference, added: “In a fairly long tenure as a law enforcement officer, I’ve seen a number of homicide cases, each and every one is an assault on our community, as is this one. We’ve very mindful of the tremendous heartache, we’re also mindful we’re doing our work here for three orphan children.”
Johnson’s wife, Sina Johnson, was charged earlier with obstruction of justice in the case.