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Kleberg D.A., Sheriff release person of interest's photo in Butler case

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 19:19:38-05

The Kleberg Co. Sheriff's Office held a news conference Monday asking for help identifying two persons of interest in the homicides of James and Michelle Butler.

The full news conference can be seen in the video above.

The picture released clearly shows a man driving a silver pickup truck, and a woman with a tattoo on her left forearm in the front passenger's seat. Kleberg Co. District Attorney John Hubert said the man also has large holes in his earlobes, possibly with gauges.

"We're working to identify the person; the male driving the truck," said Kleberg Co. Sheriff's Office Lt. David Mendoza.

The Butlers' 2018 silver Chevrolet four-door pickup truck was seen crossing the border into Mexico late last month.

"At this point we just don't have enough evidence to show they're even our suspects in the murder," Hubert said. "At this point, they're just people that we want to identify and talk to for background in the investigation."

James and Michelle Butler were residents of New Hampshire passing through Texas on the way to a seasonal job in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. They were last seen alive at Padre Balli Park RV park on Oct. 15, according to the Kleberg Co. Sheriff's Office.

Their remains were found in the dunes on Padre Island Oct. 27 in rural eastern Kleberg County when a reserve deputy trying to locate GPS coordinates in the course of investigating the Butlers' disappearance, Mendoza said.

"As he's in the area, he sees what appear to be the remains sticking out from the sand," Mendoza said. "From the shallow grave."

By the time Deputy David Farias found the first body, it was getting dark. Kleberg Co. Sheriff's deputies secured the area overnight, and assembled an investigative team the morning. Several law enforcement agencies have been involved in the case, including the DPS Forensics lab, the Texas Rangers, the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol and national park rangers.

Hubert said this investigation needs more information, including who the persons of interest are, and are asking anyone who might recognize them or their tattoos to contact the Kleberg Co. Sheriff's Office.

Mendoza stressed that the part of the beach around 'the bowl' -- around mile marker 262 south of Bob Hall Pier -- which falls under Kleberg County jurisdiction is an area frequented by families and is generally safe. The area south of Malaquite Beach is where his office has seen 'incidents' in the past.

"But for the most part, it's a safe area," Mendoza said. "It's a family area."