Texas officials confirmed security footage captured an unknown person driving a deceased couple’s truck, and they’re hoping it will help them crack the case.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that the Nueces County Medical Examiner’s Office identified 48-year-old James Butler and his wife, 46-year-old Michelle Butler, as the victims found buried in a shallow grave at Padre Island. Authorities are treating the deaths as homicides.
The couple last made contact with family on October 16. On October 18, the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office announced that James and Michelle were officially considered missing.
On October 20, police found a female’s body buried in a shallow grave in “the bowl” of Padre Island, near Corpus Christi, between Mile Markers 263 and 264. Authorities found a male’s body buried the following day. According to Chief Deputy Jaime Garza, the male’s body was found buried underneath the female’s body.
Someone drove the couple’s 2018 Silver Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck, which was towing their white Cedar Creek RV, across the Mexico border on October 21. An unknown person was driving the vehicle, according to CBS News.
“It’s not very often we have a mobile crime scene if the crime was committed say in the trailer,” John Matthews of Community Safety Initiative said.
According to The New Hampshire Union-Leader, James and Michelle were living out their dreams of traveling across the country. They had been traveling since last Summer, taking on temporary odd jobs along the way. They were reportedly on their way to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when they stopped by Corpus Christi and decided to stay.
James’ sister, Deborah Lynn van Loon, said that the couple found a free place to park their RV at Padre Island when tragedy struck. The pair had been there a little over two weeks when they suddenly stopped contacting their family. This was unusual, according to van Loon, who said James and Michelle typically made contact with family daily, often telling them about their adventures.
James was retired after serving 21 years in the U.S. Navy. He shared the love of traveling with his wife.
“He said, ‘I’ve traveled the world with the Navy, but I’ve never seen my own country,’” van Loon said.
CBS 13 reports that authorities are expected to release more details on Monday. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: James and Michelle Butler/Handout]