Authorities, community mark somber anniversary in Teresa Butler case

Teresa Butler and her son (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)
Teresa Butler and her son (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)
Teresa Butler (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)
Teresa Butler (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)
Yellow ribbons in Risco (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)
Yellow ribbons in Risco (courtesy: Brenda Wilson)

NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - They've searched for 11 years but Teresa Butler is still missing, and what happened to her remains a mystery.

New yellow ribbons dot the landscape in the small town of Risco, marking this somber anniversary.

But now, New Madrid County authorities are ready to try something new.

Sheriff Terry Stevens and Teresa's family have agreed to let us profile her case on our next Heartland Unsolved.

We talked to Sheriff Stevens about January 25, 2006, the day Dale Butler realized his wife was missing.

"No. No. Nothing looked out of the ordinary," Stevens responded when asked if there were signs of a struggle inside her house. "Nothing looked out of the ordinary other than the kids were there and she wasn't."

Dale and Teresa's sons, Gavin and Garrett, were just 4 and 2 years old. Dale came home from his overnight shift to find the two boys in the family bed, their mother nowhere in sight.

Stevens pulled out a box filled with black binders detailing each and every lead they've followed since that morning.

"We start at number one as far as leads and that's what these are. They are lead numbers. And it goes up to, looks like, 231," he said.

Stevens knows these books well. He's read through every page as investigators from across southeast Missouri ran down every lead.

"We don't take anything for granted. We don't think, 'well that's not important.' We treat everything like it could be the linchpin to solve this case," he said.

Teresa Butler's picture hangs close to his desk.

Sheriff Stevens grew up in Risco, so her disappearance hit him hard.

"I just kind of hung it there as a, a reminder to me that this is important and we don't need to forget Teresa," he said.

Back in 2006, authorities quickly activated the major case squad and interviewed her husband, family and friends.

It appears she may have known whoever came to her house that night. That person, or persons, stole a few things of value, but left other items behind. As the years passed, the calls and new clues began to dwindle.

"We still get information from time to time but it is getting fewer and far between," Sheriff Stevens admitted. "And we haven't had anything new or exciting in a while."

Since we began sharing local cold cases on Heartland Unsolved, dozens of you have asked us to profile Teresa's case. When we reached out to Sheriff Stevens, he and Teresa's family all readily agreed.

"We want Teresa Butler's name to stay fresh in the public's eye because we feel confident that there's people out there, one or more, that have information about this case and they may not even realize that it's something that may be vital to us. And we want them to come forth with it."

We have already started working with authorities on reenacting Teresa's final known moments, along with the morning Dale discovered her missing.

Plus, Sheriff Stevens and investigators have agreed to share clues never made public before, in the hopes that someone holds the key to what happened to Teresa.

As we've done in the past, I will be taking you behind the scenes of Heartland Unsolved on my KFVS Facebook page, so watch for video clips and live streams in the coming weeks.

Heartland Unsolved: In the Dark, the Disappearance of Teresa Butler will air in late February on Heartland News at 10.

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