July 24, 2021, 14:37

    Three children left orphaned after burglar slaughters parents for £14 in botched raid

    Three children left orphaned after burglar slaughters parents for £14 in botched raid

    Devout Mormon couple Tony and Katherine Butterfield were the epitome of unconditional love – devoted to each other and their children, and dedicated to their faith.

    And while they worked hard for their family, they also made sure there was plenty of fun along the way.

    Tony, 31, and Katherine, 30, were a shining example of making the most of every day and people aspired to the life they had carved out for themselves.

    They lived in a suburban home in West Jordan, Utah, with their three children, aged four, two and six months.

    They met after returning from serving on Latter-day Saints missions, where they were assigned to spread their faith, and had soon married and started their family.

    The couple had a successful garden landscaping business and renovated properties. Tony was an expert craftsman, while Katherine ran the company.

    Tony had earned the nickname “T-money” because he was always working hard and saving to support his family. He’d already got his older children doing little chores for cash to help teach them good values.

    But it wasn’t all work and no play for him.

    Tony was known for his goofy ways and was rarely heard to raise his voice.

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    Albert Enoch Johnson had tried to get work with the couple

    Tony and Katherine were devout Mormons who worked hard for their family

    Katherine, who had bright blue eyes and a huge smile, also brought happiness wherever she went. She would dance, sing and make sure her children were always busy making memories.

    The couple were renowned for hosting social events, from games nights to Halloween parties.

    But while Tony and Katherine were successful, it wasn’t about the money – they were driven by wanting the best for their family and security for their future.

    However, on the night of 17 April 2020, when Albert Enoch Johnson was driving towards the Butterfields home, all he cared about was their wealth.

    Johnson, 31, lived two miles away from the couple. He knew them, as he had tried – unsuccessfully – to get work with them and knew others who had. He needed money and, with a gun by his side and a previous conviction for burglary, he had no qualms about demanding some.

    Tony and Katherine were asleep when Johnson, wearing a mask, kicked down their front door.

    He confronted the couple with his gun, and home surveillance cameras captured him forcing them out of bed and marching them downstairs in their pyjamas as their three children were sleeping in their rooms. Pointing the gun at Tony, Johnson told him that he “just wanted money”.

    The terrified couple explained that they didn’t have much cash in the house, but handed over all they could.

    Johnson was given $20 and two mobile phones before fleeing, leaving Tony and Katherine deeply shaken.

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    Johnson had dropped his keys at the house
    (Image: Getty)

    As he fled, Johnson cut through a neighbouring garden and threw the phones away. But on reaching his car and removing his mask, he realised he’d dropped his car keys in the house – and decided to go back.

    When he arrived at the house for the second time, just after 1am, Tony was standing on the doorstep. And with Johnson no longer wearing his mask, he was recognised. Tony knew the man who had broken into his home and threatened his family.

    “Why, Albert, why?” he cried.

    Shot in the head

    Johnson realised the mistake he’d made in coming back. Trying to defend his family and stop the invader coming back into his home, Tony grabbed a knife and attacked Johnson, who suffered a superficial stab wound to the chest. As they fought in front of a hysterical Katherine, Johnson pulled out his gun and shot Tony in the head.

    Katherine started screaming and, fearful that neighbours would be alerted, Johnson shot her. He then grabbed his car keys and ran.

    But neighbours had heard the gunshots and screams and called 911. When officers arrived, they found Tony in the back yard and Katherine, who had been shot in the torso, just inside the doorway. Both were dead.

    Their children were unharmed – but their lives had changed for ever.

    Police discovered a bloody fingerprint on the front door, which was a match for Johnson. But when they went to arrest him, he had already bolted.

    He’d returned home at about 3am, showered and changed his clothes. He told his 29-year-old wife, Sina, he’d hurt someone and that “his life was over”.

    Wife Sina helped cover for Albert

    At first, she covered for him and helped dispose of some of the evidence, including putting bloody clothing in a skip and cleaning blood from their home.

    Police later arrested Sina for withholding “the whereabouts of the homicide suspect” and for falsifying her statement about what had happened.

    With the West Jordan community in shock in the wake of the killings, police held a press conference. “We do believe this was a home invasion,” they said, describing Tony and Katherine as innocent victims. “He was not a welcome guest there.”

    The family released a statement describing Tony and Katherine as “incredible, Christ-like, kind, happy and loving parents, children, siblings and friends”.

    The double murder was one of the worst crimes the area had ever seen and a donation page was set up on GoFundMe to raise money for their orphaned children.

    On 22 April, police got some tip-offs and Johnson was tracked down to Sacramento, California, where he was staying with people he knew. When officers moved in, he resisted arrest and was injured as he was taken into custody – visible on his mugshot.

    Johnson was returned to Utah, where he revealed he’d lashed out when Tony stabbed him, and that he had targeted the family because he “thought they had money”.

    He was charged with murder, robbery and firearms offences.

    Desire to forgive

    Three days later, Tony and Katherine were buried and their service was live-streamed for mourners who couldn’t attend because of Covid-19 restrictions. Tony was buried in a dark blue coffin, while Katherine was laid to rest in a light pink coffin.

    The family said that while they felt no ill will towards Johnson, they had confidence that justice would prevail. “We invite all to live like Tony and Katherine,” mourners were told. “Be the light, spread the light.”

    In August last year, Sina was put on probation on charges of obstruction of justice after trying to cover up for her husband.

    Two months later, Johnson agreed to a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to murdering Tony and Katherine and guilty to robbing a store in 2019.

    His lawyer said Johnson was shocked by his crime and remorseful. “Mr Johnson was not himself that night,” he said, and added that the killer had been drinking and acted impulsively. “To this day, he has a hard time believing he has done this.”

    The court heard emotional victim impact statements from the couple’s loved ones. Katherine’s sister, Emily, said Johnson had “torn up a beautiful family” and Tony’s mother said her son and his wife “did not deserve to die that night”.

    But they also spoke of their desire to forgive – as Tony and Katherine would have done the same.

    A shackled Johnson said, “I want to say thank you for praying for me. I am sorry.”

    The judge told the defendant he appreciated his guilty plea as it had saved the family the distress of a lengthy trial. But he insisted the murders of the much-loved and respected couple deserved a fitting punishment.

    “What you’ve done is the most serious crime that we have had to deal with in this state,” he added. “These are wounds that will never heal.”

    Johnson was given two life sentences with no chance of parole.

    It was greed that drove Johnson to kill that night – and he targeted a couple who were all about giving. In succumbing to his dark impulses, he extinguished the light of two people who only ever wanted to shine.

    Sourse: mirror.co.uk

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