RISCO -- Even though the Southeast Missouri Major Case Squad disbanded early Monday evening, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, New Madrid County Sheriff's Department and local authorities are continuing the investigation of a Risco woman missing since Wednesday morning, Jan. 25.
According to New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens, Teresa Lynn Butler, 35, was found to be missing from her home near Risco around 10 a.m. Wednesday, when her husband, Dale Butler, returned from work at a steel mill in Blytheville, Ark.
Stevens said Butler arrived home to find his two young children, ages 2 and 4, alone in the family home on County Road 241, also known as Eight Ditch Road, just off Highway 62 on the outskirts of Risco. The youngest child was awake and in his bed, while the older child was still sleeping, Stevens continued.
"There were no signs of forced entry and the only items found to be missing were a video game console, Play Station, camcorder and the stereo from his (Butler's) Jeep," said Stevens.
Law enforcement officials spent Wednesday afternoon examining the premises for evidence, scouring area ditches for signs of the missing woman and interviewing family members and friends. According to Stevens, the last person to speak with Butler was a family member who spoke with her around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening. When asked about the conversation, that person declined comment.
A block-by-block search also was conducted within the city limits. In addition, the highway patrol had an airplane circling the area and a National Guard helicopter also was called for a closer search.
The investigation continued over the weekend, extending the usual time the Major Case Squad remains on the scene. Investigator Jason Ward, with the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department, said late Tuesday morning, the circumstances of the case prompted an extensive, thorough investigation.
"This has been a frustrating case. It's unique -- like something you'd expect in a big city," Ward said. "The Major Case Squad extended its time in order to find and talk to everyone we wanted to interview."
Operations conducted over the weekend included an expanded aerial search and the arrival of search and rescue dogs brought in from St. Louis. Four-
wheelers were used extensively to cover areas in all directions within an approximate five-mile radius of Risco.
"We ran down every lead that came in," said Ward.
The Major Case Squad disbanded around 7 p.m. Monday night, according to Ward, who advised that the individual officers on the squad will be continuing the investigation as new information becomes available.
"Just because we disbanded doesn't mean we aren't still working on the case. We will continue to work on it -- track all leads. This case is not over. We'll work day and night tracking down every lead we can and work just as hard as if the squad was still activated," he promised. "The investigation will require a lot of leg work."
Butler's picture is being circulated to the media and other law enforcement agencies. She is described as five feet, seven inches in height, weighing approximately 109 pounds, with brown eyes and hair.
Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to call the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department at 573-748-2516.