TN - Robert Butters, 49, Cleveland, 1 March 1981

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by Lisahas2cats, May 16, 2007.

  1. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Hey all,

    I have a very dear friend whose father was murdered in the early 1980's when she was only 4 years old. Either because of police incompetence or a coverup (my friend suspects that authorities may have known who killed her father), no one was ever arrested for his murder. Strange "things" would start happening anytime my friend's mother would push the issue with local authorities, and since she had a small child to consider, she eventually just let the matter rest.

    My friend is now an adult and is wanting to try and find some answers. I told her about this forum, and she wondered (as do I) if it would be okay to present some of the information here for some brainstorming. She has scanned and email several official documents to me, so there is both official and family information to work with.

    I'll wait till I get some responses before flooding you guys with info :).

    Lisa
     
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  3. Lesleegp

    Lesleegp Former Member

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    I say go for it! These folks here thrive on these types of cases and usually get some answers!
     
  4. nanandjim

    nanandjim Former Member

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    I agree. Many posters on this forum love to solve a mystery. Brainstorming by lots of people may help your friend find her answer.
     
  5. Jules

    Jules Former Member

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    Absolutely! Post away. We have some amazing sleuthers here that may be able to help you and your friend.
     
  6. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    I'm all ears. There are a plenty of members (alas, I do not count myself among their numbers) here who are phenomenal at this type of sleuthing.
     
  7. Amraann

    Amraann Former Member

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    I agree with the others ..... Many here love to help solve a mystery and some are rather aggressive in calling officials etc..
    If nothing else your friend will get some great advice about how to start searching herself.

    Possibly you can start off by telling us the circumstances surrounding his death and the things her mother claimed happend whenever she tried to follow up.

    Maybe your friend can join and post?
     
  8. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Okay, either I'll have her to email me a write-up summary and I'll share it, or she'll join :). She tried to join yesterday, but didn't have the right kind of email account to allow registration (it's a free account).....she's going to try and activate her email account through her internet provider, so hopefully she'll be able to join :).

    Either way, details will be coming!
    Thanks guys!
     
  9. close_enough

    close_enough Inactive

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    like SCM ...i'm all ears too!
     
  10. Amraann

    Amraann Former Member

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    Yeah no free accounts permitted. It should be pretty easy to activate and use her account through her ISP :)
     
  11. close_enough

    close_enough Inactive

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    ok, i see you're 'here' Lisa.....got any info for us? :)
     
  12. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Hey, sorry, I haven't gotten squat done :(. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have some clear-headed time (without a "helpful" toddler) to get something on here! :)
     
  13. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Okay, I have a rtf file of the only news report that was done on the murder, but don't know how to upload it to here to share....can someone help? It provides a very brief, succinct summary of the crime.....my friend's mother has written a longer and very heartfelt account that provides deeper detail and more feeling that will fill in the blanks.

    Anyway, if someone can tell me how to share an RTF file on here, that will get me started :)
     
  14. close_enough

    close_enough Inactive

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    i'm sorry...i've never even heard of an RTF file..wish i could help, but i can't:(
     
  15. MagicRose99

    MagicRose99 Watch out for my thorns!

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    An rtf (rich text format) file is like a document file (like word, word perfect) and the only way to share is to 1) email or 2, upload to a file sharing site and post the link so others can go and grab it. WS doesn't allow attachments for the majority of the posters here...
     
  16. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Would me typing it out to share here break copyright laws, as long as I properly credit the newspaper?
     
  17. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    I don't think so as long as you type it verbatim, give full credits and explain why you can't post a link to it (in this case, because it's too old to be online).
     
  18. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    This is the paraphrased version of what was in the Cleveland, TN newspaper article. Since this happened in the early 1980’s, no online version is available and the author’s name was not on the scanned copy.

    On March 1, 1981, in Cleveland (Bradley County), TN, one man was killed and four men were injured in a knife fight at an Amvet’s Club on Blue Springs Road.

    Robert Dane Butters (my friend’s dad), age 49 was found deceased on the floor of the Amvet’s Club around 2AM after a fight had been reported to the police. A second man, Charles Ray Clark, age 42, was found there as well, but survived his injuries.

    Two other men, Jerry Wayne Moore (35) and Randy Maynard (31), both from Texas but residing in the area whilst working for a construction company, were located at Ocoee and Inman Street after being found by a police officer (they had wrecked their car, and the driver parked his car and waited in the middle of the road since they didn’t know where the local hospital was located). While this incident was being investigated, a FOURTH man involved, Clifford Eugene Gibson (37), walked to the wreck scene after parking his car nearby.

    It was during the wreck investigation that a call came in about the fight at the Amvet’s Club; when authorities arrived there, they found the doors locked. They forced their way in, which was when they found Butters and Clark. The interior was practically destroyed, according the the officer.

    The only person charged was Maynard, and that was for hitting Gibson over the head with a tire tool. Although the article stated that the investigation was ongoing and arrests were expected to be made, nothing more happened
     
  19. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Here's what my friend wrote in an email to me...it gives a little more personal feel for what was going on:

    My mom fell asleep while watching Hill Street Blues with my dad. I'm not sure if this was February 28 or March 1, 1981. His death date is March 1, 1981 but it could have happened in the early morning hours.

    She woke up sometime in the early morning hours, standing up in the middle of the room, freezing cold. She said that she knew the minute he woke up that he was dead. How she even knew he was gone, much less dead, I do not know. They had a connection and she does have some psychic ability. That is all I can figure.

    So I'm not sure how much time passed, not much from what I can gather, and the phone rang. It was the Bradley County Police Department. They asked her to come down to the department. She told them that she knew her husband was dead and asked what happened. She thought it was a car wreck. They would not tell her over the phone and insisted that she come in.

    She called her sister to go with her and took me to my granny's house. They went to the police department and I'm not sure what they were told there - I will have to get more information on this. But she was told that he was dead. I do think that she asked for his clothing and they wouldn't give it to her.

    I scanning the police and autopsy reports, those would tell more than I would be able to.
     
  20. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    Sorry, my mother and granny came over so I got distracted. Here is what my friend's mother wrote about the events and other information:

    This is sketchy and may not be 100% accurate but here is what I remember. There was a local guy (I think his name was Gibson) behind the bar, another local guy (Clark) who was seriously wounded and left for dead, two or three guys from out of town who were staying in Cleveland while working construction and a local guy (Elrod) passed out in a back room. The guys from out of town fled the scene in a vehicle and hit a barrier-if I remember correctly, it was a huge outdoor concrete planter. I also remember that they were going the wrong way on Broad Street. The police arrived on the wreck scene and the guy who was behind the bar saw the lights and came wandering over from Ocoee Street seeking help. He had a head injury and was trying to get to the hospital. He was unaware that your dad and Clark were still at the place, so he later said which is possible. One of the guys in the wrecked car was injured. I think were all taken to the hospital. I'm not sure if the paper reported that the guys from out of town were going to the hospital for treatment when they wrecked, but what they were actually doing was trying to get out of town. The guy who was passed out in the back room came to around 2:00 in the morning. He is the one who ran up the street beating on doors to get help - I didn't learn this until much later or if I did, I didn't remember it. The inside of the place was completely demolished-chairs in splinters, broken glasses and bottles (the AmVets was a private club and served liquor) light switches had been knocked off the walls and the telephone had been yanked out. When the police got there, they found your dad and the other guy. By the time I was notified the next morning around 6:00 am, the out of town guys were being held at the jail and Gibson was wandering around in the jail lobby. I was told by Sheriff Lawson that if someone didn't talk and tell them what happened, they would all be charged with second degree murder. As you know, this didn't happen. The out of town guys were released and left for parts unknown. Clark eventually recovered and I talked with him. He could not remember very much about what happened. I also talked with Gibson who said he was knocked out behind the bar and didn't really know what happened. Much later, I saw Elrod's wife at a store and she is the one who told me about her husband going for help. She said he would be glad to talk with me, but he didn't know what happened so I didn't bother. There were so many rumors - drugs, mafia, etc. - about what happened, it was hard to separate fact from fiction. I received calls telling me where your dad had been seen that day. Someone even called me claiming to be a private detective and offered to assist me in finding out what happened. Your dad was a well liked guy and I received numerous phone calls, some with offers to help, some with rumors and some just plain nosey. One wanted to know about how cremation worked-I told her to call a funeral home and hung up. Another call I later received was from the Dalton police department. They had arrested someone for murder who claimed to have information. It turned out he was trying to plea bargain. Eventually, it was too much and I stopped answering the phone and refused to talk about it with anyone other than family.

    I'm not sure when I got the police reports but if I look at them, I may remember more. I also got the autopsy report. I'm not sure if it was the pathologist or who told me, but I was told that even if someone had called for help immediately, it would not have arrived in time to save your dad. He only lived a few minutes before bleeding out. This I'm not sure about, but I think I was told that someone had him in a choke hold and there was a blow to the side of his head behind the ear that was probably from someone who was familiar with military tactics.

    The AmVets was a key club requiring a card to get in and should have closed at 12:00. Rather than closing when he should, the regular bar tender went home and left Gibson (if that was his name) behind the bar. The out of town guys and Clark were at the bar. They were playing "matching" or something similar. Your dad was not a member, but knocked on the door and someone let him in. An argument started, I think between Gibson and the out of town guys, and Gibson told the out of town guys to leave. It escalated from there and one of the out of town guys threw a bottle and broke the big mirror behind the bar, then went behind the bar and started breaking things and hitting Gibson. Your dad came to Gibson's defense. I think Clark told me he remembered one of them grabbing your dad and then Clark was attacked and evidently knocked out because he doesn't remember anything else. Clark also said he had been drinking all day and was quite drunk.

    One of the things that has always puzzled me was why your dad went there in the first place. We were getting ready to build onto the house and had worked all that day so the calls about where he had been seen were a bunch of bologna. We came in and were watching TV. He was sober. I laid down on the couch and the last thing I remember was Hill Street Blues coming on at 10:00. Your dad was still here when I went to sleep. He used to say I was like a sleepy eyed doll - lay me on my back and I went to sleep. I woke up standing in the middle of the floor shaking all over and your dad was gone. He had covered me up and I was clutching the quilt. I knew something had happened and did not go back to sleep. I didn't know what to do so just sat and waited with a terrible feeling. Contrary to what is shown on TV, police do not always show up on your door step to tell you someone has been killed. I received a call requesting that I come to the Bradley County Sheriff's department. They would not tell me what had happened. I somehow knew your dad was dead but was thinking of a car accident. They did ask if someone should come get me. I told them no that I had a daughter and needed to take her to my mother's. It just so happened that Linda was home-she lived out of town then-and she drove me to the sheriff's office. I don't remember driving to town or going to the sheriff's office. The sheriff and DA were there and told me that he had been killed. I do remember they were kind and compassionate. They asked my permission to do an autopsy. I agreed but later found out that it wasn't necessary to ask my permission. In cases of violent death one is always performed according to law. My main concern was how I was going to tell you.

    Your dad and I knew a guy who was an officer or something with the AmVets. A couple of years before he was killed, we had gone there as his guest and he talked your dad into joining. After that we were there a couple of times but neither of us liked the place so when your dad's membership expired, he did not renew it. Talking with other people who knew your dad, I learned that he had shown up at the Dinner House- a local bar- around 11:00 and had a couple of beers before the place closed and he left. When our van was released by the police, there were two beers in a paper bag in the van. This indicates that he had planned to come home. If I didn't want to go out and he did, I would tell him to go on. He would always bring home two beers - one for him and one for me. If I wasn't in bed when he came home, we would drink the beers and talk. If I was in bed, he would put them in the refrigerator. So the fact that he had the beers lead me to believe he was coming home and if asked, I would have said the AmVets was the last place he would have gone.

    I now think that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But i do think that lawson was paid off to let the guys go. I had actually met them [the men who did it]. There was a little bar that we used to hang out at-they were there. They were nice enough-i think your dad talked to them about helping them get work. I think only one of tem was from texas-the others were from someplace else. I do know the glasses [finding his glasses in the house] freaked me out although I don't remember the details of where they were found. I know they were in the house and have no idea of how they got here. He must have [had them on when he died] he would not have been able to see without them. It is only the lenses and one of them is cracked. I did get his wallet. I kept asking for his clothes and they told me they were evidence. It never entered my mind that i really would not want them-they would have been covered with his blood. I do remember Steve Lawson-I did not like him-Now i am not sure if it was that i needed someone to be angry at or if he really was a bastard. A tire or maybe two on our van had been slashed - i don't remember who did it, but i remember that someone at the sheriff's department said they had some tires in evidence and they would replace them for me and they did. One thing that i was upset with steve lawson about-they were holding the van, part of the crime scene. i asked that when they were finished with it, they not have it towed but let me know and i would bring it home. he assured me they would and then he had it towed. I didn't want to be stuck with the tow bill. I think they also slashed clark's tires. I sued the amvets and recoved the cost. I don't remember how much i got from the settlement, but that's what i used to build onto the house. I had a ****** lawyer who talked me into settling-i should have taken it on to court, but was just emotionally not able to. Another thing that happened-richard fisher was the DA-he pad locked the amvets club and told me that s long as he was in office it would not reopen. He was true to his word-but the da's office is an elected office and someone else won. less than a month after the new DA took office, there was an amvets club in Cleveland. In hindsight, another thing that is puzzling about the lenses. if the place was in such a shambles, how would someone have found two lenses in all the mess. [They are in] the top drawer of the black chest. They are still wrapped in the paper that i found them in. i put them in his glasses case. I don't remember [where I found them] -seems like either on a nightstand or in the top drawer of a night stand. One of the lenses is cracked like i remembered it-there is also a small red smear on one of them-i remember that too, it looks like a crayon mark. Yes [I am sure they are his] -they are trifocals, not many people wear trifocals. Clark and your dad knew one another and i think he was completely honest with me when i talked with him. There were rumors that there were others there but he didn't remember anyone else-he didn't rule it out, but simply did not remember anyone else. I don't have a shread of evidence to base this one, but i always thought it was the guy from texas who killed him. Something else i just remembered, at least i think i remember - either clark or gibson told me that they left and went after a bottle of whiskey and brought it back-which is strange because i am sure the amvets served mixed drinks. Maybe it was because the bar was closed and gibson wasn't serving drinks. It was against the law to serve drings after midnight and i don't know why the regular bar tender didn't put everyone out before leaving. I used to know who the bar tender was but don't remember. Maybe he had it [the whiskey] in his van or at his house-i don't know-it is just one of those hazy things i remember. As far as the knife [found] in your dad's hand-it was a buck knife he used for cutting wire-he was probaly trying to defend himself-he was not a knife fighter-as a matter of fact he wasn't a fighter at all-he used to say he was a lover, not a fighter, and he had absolutely no use for a knife fighter-he said they were cowards.

     
  21. Lisahas2cats

    Lisahas2cats New Member

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    .....(The part in red was written by my friend)And this is some information she found in with the newspaper clipping (which I am goign to forward to you). She had evidently written it up for the attorney she was using when she sued the AmVets club. (My friend's mother's words continue below)....

    I received a call at 6:00 am , March 1, from Sheriff Lawson who asked me to come to the jail. When I arrived at the jail he and Richard Fisher (District Attorney) informed me of Bob’s death. At that time they had very little information as to what happened. They told me the names of the other people involved and asked if I knew them. I did not. They told me that according to their investigation, Bob was not the instigator of the fight and it was possible that he was trying to help Gibson who had been struck over the head with some type of weapon.

    Bob was home all day Saturday (the day preceding his death.) He worked in his workshop and made preparations to start building on to our house which we were in the process of remodeling. Saturday night we watched television. Shortly after 10:00 pm I fell asleep on the couch. Bob was till home watching TV at this time. I have no idea when nor why he left.

    I later found out that he arrived at the Dinner House between 11:00 and 12:00 . According to Pat Shaddick, he had a couple of beers and talked with Bernard and Jennie Hooper. At closing, 12:00 , he asked Bob Shaddick if he would like to go to Chattanooga and Shaddick said no.

    After Bob Clark was released from the hospital, I went to his home and talked with him. He told me that he had been at the AMVETS Saturday evening and night and that he was drunk. Maynard, Moore and another man who was with them were “matching money” with Clark earlier in the evening. They became belligerent and there was some arguing. At closing time, Vaughn, who was the bartender and a friend of Clark ’s, took the money and a gun that was kept behind the bar. Vaughn and Clark (also, at least one other man, perhaps Moore) took a case of beer and a bottle of whiskey and prepared to go to Vaughn’s house. Vaughn told Gibson to stay there and get Maynard, Moore and the third man out and lock up. After Clark had been at Vaughn’s house for awhile – he’s not sure how long – Gibson called and asked the men at the house to come back to the AMVETS. Clark is the only one who returned. He took the bottle of whiskey with him. After he returned, Bob knocked on the door and someone let him in. (Bob was not a member of the AMVETS, although he did belong at one time. He did not renew his membership, because he seldom went there.) Gibson was behind the bar, although no drinks were being served. Clark passed the bottle and everyone was drinking from it. About 15 minutes after Bob arrived, Gibson and one of the three men got into an arguement about them leaving. It was something to the effect that Gibson told them to leave – one of them said something back. Gibson said you come behind the bar and get me. Clark thought it was funny at first. One of the men started behind the bar and Gibson started throwing bottles at him. At this point the unidentified man who was with Maynard and Moore left. Maynard or Moore went outside and returned with some type of weapon – perhaps a tire tool- and struck Gibson over the head rendering him unconscious. Bob and Clark were still sitting at the bar. Clark remembers the two men were on Bob and then one came over and started hitting Clark with something. The one that was striking Clark yelled for the other one to come help him. He heard a thud and assumes it was Bob falling to the floor. His memory is rather vague after this but he remembers being stabbed and struck numerous times. After everything settled down, he remembers Maynard and Moore breaking the place up.

    During all this, there was a man passed out in a back room of the place. He came to around 3:00 and heard someone moaning and tried to call for help. However all the lights and phones had been knocked out. He went up Blue Springs Road until he found someone who let him in and he called an ambulance.

    A tire on Bob’s van and one on Gibson’s truck were slashed.

    According to Clark , Gibson claims that he doesn’t remember anything after being struck on the head. He came to in his truck in front of the Coffee Cup on Ocoee Street . He saw blue lights flashing on Inman and Ocoee Streets and walked to them. Maynard and Moore were involved in an accident and the police had come to investigate. Moore was taken to the hospital and Maynard – at this time or later – was booked at the county jail for assault on Gibson. He was on 10 years probation from Texas for assault with a deadly weapon on a policeman. He was later released on bond.
     

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