By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The RV community was shocked and saddened by the 2019 deaths of James and Michelle Butler. You may recall they were first reported missing in October that year. Four days later, police found the RVing couple’s homicide resting place on Texas’ South Padre Island. The story has seemingly dragged on since that time. Finally, a guilty plea has been made in the RVing couple’s homicide.
After relatives reported James and Michelle missing, security camera footage revealed the Butlers’ Chevy Silverado towing their trailer through a U.S./Mexico border crossing. The driver was a man, and clearly not James Butler. The date of the footage indicated the crossing was made into Mexico on October 21. That was two days before the missing couple’s remains were found.
A few weeks later, in early November 2019, reports surfaced that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the case. In a combined Mexico/U.S. operation, police arrested Adam Curtis Williams, a Utah resident, in Jalisco, Mexico. Also picked up, another Utah resident, Amanda Noverr. The pair was taken back to Texas, there booked into separate facilities.
Then seemingly slow action
Legal action on the RVing couple’s homicide was a painfully slow process. It wasn’t until late in January 2020 that a Kleberg County, Texas, grand jury handed down indictments. Even then, the charges against Williams and Noverr weren’t related to murder. The charges were theft of the pickup, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and tampering with physical evidence. Because they were aware a murder had taken place, the final charge was added. That, when they “intentionally and knowingly” buried the bodies of the Butlers. Their purpose: to impair the investigation.
Why the seemingly “simple” charges? Prior to the grand jury’s work, the prosecutor knew if there wasn’t some some sort of indictment, Williams and Noverr could be released on “reasonable bond.” But the prosecutors felt they had a solid case. They didn’t want either of the defendants walking away from a cell. At the time, the press was told the state felt it was ready for trial, and that both would stay behind bars “until the case is resolved.”
Fast-forward to May of 2020. Still no murder charges filed in the RVing couple’s homicide. No doubt James and Michelle’s family were anxious. The district attorney announced that the crime lab had been running slow before the pandemic. With the virus rolling into town, office staff had been reduced. As far as DNA testing was concerned, the D.A. said, “Sometimes the process isn’t as fast as we’d like it.”
Finally, in December 2020, another grand jury was convened. Williams, then age 34, and Noverr, 33, were indicted for first-degree capital murder. They “knowingly caused the death of James and Michelle Butler by shooting them with a firearm.” If Williams managed to bail out on the Texas charges earlier, it’s doubtful he’d have gone too far. Two charges were pending against him back in Utah: a first-degree sexual assault charge, and a first-degree felony aggravated assault case.
Nearly a year later, movement in the case. Earlier this month, Adam Williams pleaded guilty to several charges. Capital murder, unlawful use of a firearm, theft, and tampering with evidence, all in connection with the RVing couple’s homicide. Williams knew the district attorney had plans to push for a death penalty when his case went to trial. The trial won’t be required. Williams plea has lead to life in prison, with no possibility of parole. As to Amanda Noverr, authorities say it could be a matter of days before she appears in court.
While Adam Williams’ plea to charges won’t bring James and Michelle Butler back to their families, it may provide some measure of closure. Our thoughts go out to their loved ones.
Photo: James and Michelle Butler, alicia_C_ on twitter.com