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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

Trail still cold for missing Risco woman

Monday, July 24, 2006

(Photo)
Teresa Lynn Butler
RISCO -- Tuesday will mark the six-month anniversary of Teresa Lynn Butler's mysterious disappearance from her Risco home.

Since the 35-year-old mother of two vanished without a trace Jan. 25, family, friends and law enforcement have searched the area around her home, put up posters in the area, talked to psychics and set up reward funds for Butler's return.

But the trail remains cold. "We're no closer right now than we were at the very outset of this thing," said New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens. The department is investigating the case on a daily basis, with the help of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Butler's family and friends no longer expect to find their daughter alive. "I do know that whoever did this killed her," said her mother, Linda Buchanan, based on an intuition. Right now, she just wants to know what happened and where her daughter is.

"I would like to find some kind of closure," Buchanan said. That's the same thing Amy Lacey, a close friend of Butler's who attended elementary and high school with her wants. "Closure and justice," Lacey said.

Lacey, too, initially thought her friend was dead once she heard the news of Butler's disappearance. "Knowing Teresa and how much she loved her family, that's still my instinct -- that she's gone," she said.

Several groups are working to provide closure. "We're going to keep working on it especially as long as we're still getting the leads," Stevens said, adding that the sheriff's department has received hundreds of leads. "We're still getting leads -- not near as many as we did initially -- but we're gonna continue to work this aggressively until we come to a conclusion one way or another."

Search crews have scouted a five- to 10-mile radius around Butler's residence, searching by ATV, foot, horseback and air by helicopter and airplane. "We did not come up with anything," Stevens said.

Family often joined in on the search as often as possible. "We have looked the place over," Buchanan said. "It was devastating."

Search efforts have gotten more difficult since grass and other vegetation has grown, but Buchanan holds hope that hunters may find her daughter's body in the fall.

Lacey, who lives in Mississippi, said although she didn't join search efforts, she did come to put up posters in the surrounding area. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," she said.

She has also started a Web site. "My goal in making the Web site is to keep Teresa's name, face and story out there for the public somehow."

Lacey wants to keep daily attention on her friend's disappearance and has even contacted national news and talk shows about Butler's story, but received no response. "This is very frustrating," she said.

In a way, maintaining the site has helped Lacey to heal. "I know that I am doing everything that I can possibly think (of) to help bring her home, so that helps give me a little peace of mind," Lacey said.

It is also quite difficult, especially updating the site and reading the guest book. In fact, Lacey had to post a message asking visitors not to use it as a speculation forum because of disrespectful and hurtful messages. "It's hard to read some of it, because I know some of it is rumor and people are repeating it as fact," she said.

The family has talked to several psychics as well. "Everyone that we've talked to said that Dale (Teresa's husband) did it, but they never said where her body was at," Buchanan said. Her daughter and son-in-law had been arguing that evening before he went to work in Blytheville, Ark., she added.

But Gary Dale Butler has been completely exonerated by the sheriff's department, Stevens said. "We confirmed he was at work in Blytheville and did not leave work."

In fact, Butler's husband voluntarily took a polygraph test, which he passed with "flying colors" Stevens said.

There was no listing for a Gary Dale Butler in the phone book.

The sheriff's department has also performed door-to-door inquiries in the city of Risco and outlying county areas, Stevens said.

Law enforcement tracked down any names presented in interviews conducted with Butler's fellow employees at Wal-Mart in Dexter, relatives and friend, getting an alibi and any information or insight available, he added.

"We haven't not talked to anyone we thought could remotely or possibly give us some insight," Stevens said. "We haven't left anybody out."