James and Michelle Butler went missing while traveling through the Corpus Christi, Texas area on their way to a job in Florida. Two bodies were found near the region where they went missing, and authorities identified them as the Butlers on November 1. Officials told James’ sister that they have footage of the RV being driven over the U.S.-Mexico border, but that footage has not been shared publicly. On November 4, officials released a photo of the man seen driving the RV and truck over the border into Mexico, along with a woman sitting beside him. He was later identified as Adam Curtis Williams and is believed to be armed and dangerous. Amanda Noverr was identified as the woman traveling with him.
Here is what we know so far about James and Michelle Butler. The search for answers is still ongoing. If you have any information, please call the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office at 361-595-8500.
1. James & Michelle Butler Were Last Seen on October 15 at Padre Balli Park
The Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office shared that James Butler, 48, and his wife, Michelle Butler, 46, had not been seen since October 15. They were last seen at Padre Balli Park around noon on October 15, KII-TV reported. (Earlier reports placed the date as October 14.) The couple’s phones were turned off on October 16 and their last social media contact was on October 15, friends have said on social media.
Officials said during the press conference that the Butlers were last seen alive on October 15 and moved out of the Balli RV Park on the 15th. The park office said they were gone from the site at 12 p.m. Then later on October 15, Michelle Butler said on social media that they arrived at their new home and planned to be there a couple of weeks.
Many people helped with the search, combing Padre Island National Seashore for any signs of the couple.
Family said from the beginning that it wasn’t like them to unplug like this and they typically talk to family almost every day. Caitlin Roth, who said the Butlers are her in-laws, wrote on Facebook: “They have children, a granddaughter, siblings and very close friends they talk to daily. If they wanted to do that [unplug] we know they would have let us know.”
James’ sister, Deborah van Loon, told KRZTV 10 that she last spoke to her brother the week before about selling his New Hampshire home. Their phones kept going to voicemail when she tried to contact them later. Van Loon told Heavy that the family is still looking for answers.
Here is the timeline of when James and Michelle Butler were last seen, according to the Finding Michelle & James Butler Facebook Page:
- October 14: Checking out of Padre Balli Campground (Officials said in a press conference this was on October 15)
- October 15: Last Facebook post was setting up on Burners Beach near Corpus Christi, Texas
- October 15: Michelle last spoke to her son.
- October 16: Last known text.
- October 17: Missed a scheduled Facetime with their granddaughter to see her open a package they sent from Flour Bluff.
- October 19: Camper last seen on Burners Beach without their truck.
- October 21: RV and truck were gone. GPS devices could not detect their vehicles.
2. The Butlers’ Bodies Were Found Near Where They Were Last Seen, Buried in a Shallow Grave. Their Cause of Death Has Not Been Released.
On Sunday night October 27, remains were found in a shallow grave near where the couple was last seen, the Caller Times reported. At first, authorities were not sure if the remains were human because they were severely decomposed. They were found by an official who was following up on a cell phone pinging in the area south of Bob Hall Pier near Mile Marker 263, near Padre Balli Park, KRIS-TV reported.
During the press conference on November 4, officials said that the officer was investigating the area, trying to get GPS coordinates, when he saw what appeared to be remains in the sand. That was how the grave was found. The site was secured because it was at night and they returned the next morning. That was when they discovered a male body too. Mendoza said the bodies were found because animals had been digging up the grave.
Officials told KIII-TV that the two bodies were partially clothed and dental films were sent to the medical examiners. Authorities later clarified that the man’s body was found beneath the woman’s, and officials suspect foul play.
Deborah van Loon said that the two bodies were found right where they parked, KIII-TV reported. She said they’d never miss their weekly calls with their grandchildren and she was scared it was them.
On November 1, authorities reported the heartbreaking news that the bodies were indeed the Butlers, WMUR reported. Their cause of death has not been released, but the medical examiner ruled their deaths as homicides.
Lt. David Mendoza, who is leading the investigation, said on November 4 that they are still not releasing the cause of death because it was an important part of their investigation.
3. They Were Traveling in a Truck Towing an RV, with Multiple Cats, & Were Heading to a Job in Florida
The couple was traveling in a truck and RV, both with New Hampshire license plates. The truck is a four-door pickup: 2018 Silver Chevrolet 2500 with the license plate 3738968. The truck was town a white Cedar Creek RV with license plate T533534. The photo above was shared by Michelle Butler on Facebook shortly before they disappeared.
These next two photos show what the RV and truck look like.
Butlers’ family believed the couple was heading to Fort Lauderdale in Florida for a part-time job and they were supposed to arrive on November 20. James Butler’s sister, Deborah van Loon, told KRZTV 10 that the couple was part of a Work to Camp program where they work jobs around the country. They were going to sell Christmas trees in Florida for a month starting November 20, and they were supposed to be at Burners Beach in Corpus Christi for about two weeks.
The couple had multiple cats with them in their RV, which are pictured in the photo below.
The couple is from Rumney, New Hampshire, WMUR reported. Prior to their disappearance, they had talked to relatives almost every day. They had been traveling in Texas for a while. James Butler shared this photo from the road in Texas in June 2019.
According to his Facebook page, James Butler was retired from the U.S. Navy and now a full-time RV’er.
He was a 21-year-Navy veteran, his sister told KIII-TV, and had always dreamed of traveling the world.
They’ve been traveling in their RV since June 2018, KZTV 10 reported.
James Butler was a friendly and generous person, Mendoza said. He said people who don’t know each other often meet up at that part of the beach and hang out.
4. A GoFundMe Has Been Started to Help the Family
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family of James and Michelle Butler. You can donate to it here. The GoFundMe reads: “James’ sisters are trying to get to Corpus Christi Texas to be there during this very hard time after two bodies found at Padre Balli island. They are unable to afford the trip down and need help to get there. They need help with costs of flights and accommodations. Deborah vanLoon and Stacey Butler Maddocks are the sisters of James Butler and really need your help through this very difficult time. Thank you.”
Shortly after the Butlers disappeared, Joanna Trevino Garza shared a strange story on Facebook saying that she believes she and her husband saw James Butler on October 22 in Calallen and stopped and prayed with him. However, because RV and truck were seen driving past the border on October 21 and the bodies have now been identified as the Butlers, it appears this story was a case of mistaken identity.
She wrote: “GUYS, My husband and I stopped and prayed for this man on tues the 22nd around 820pm at Walmart in Calallen on US 77. He said he was from New Hampshire and said his name was Dennis. He said he lost everything and was needing help with food. He was obviously suffering some kind of memory lapse or PTSD. If anyone in that area please keep a look out. I’ve already contacted sheriff’s dept etc. Most importantly, prayers are needed.”
That Walmart is approximately 38 miles from the beach where the couple was last confirmed to be seen.
Garza later commented: “I knew nothing of these missing people until today. I just offered prayer and meal money as God lead me to do. Under what basis should police be called? I had no reason to report him that dsy. I had no idea of this missing case until today through FB. There are hundreds of homeless people disoriented that lose everything.”
Garza has been talking with the Butlers’ family about what she saw, in case it helps the search.
When asked about the Walmart sighting during a November 4 press conference, and if it showed the sighting was wrong, District Attorney John Hubert said he wouldn’t comment on the person seen at Walmart because it’s specific to an ongoing investigation.
5. Adam Curtis Williams Was Identified as the Man Who Drove Their Truck & RV Across the Border
Deborah Lynn van Loon, James Butler’s sister, posted on Facebook that the Butlers’ truck and trailer were seen crossing the border into Mexico. She said that Kleberg County has the footage and told her that the person driving the truck was not James Butler. On November 4, Kleberg County finally released a photo from the suveillance footage, showing a man and woman driving the truck across the border. On November 5, the man was identified as Adam Curtis Williams and the woman was identified as Amanda Noverr.
The surveillance footage itself has not been released publicly. On November 5, Kleberg County Sheriff’s Department finally shared that they had driven through the checkpoint in Eagle Pass. Hubert said that the male and female have identifying tattoos and the man was wearing large gauge earrings.
He added that the investigators have had contact with authorities in Mexico, but would not elaborate more on what that entailed. Hubert emphasized that they aren’t murder suspects, but are sought in connection with the case. An arrest warrant for felony theft has been issued for Williams. He’s considered armed and dangerous and has a long criminal history to his name. You can read more about his criminal history in Heavy’s story here.
WMUR reported that investigators confirmed the Chevy Silverado and Cedar Creek Camper were seen on surveillance footage crossing a border checkpoint into Mexico between October 20-October 21. The missing persons report was filed on October 23.
Family and friends said on social media that multiple attempts have been made to find the couple through GPS and On Star, which have not been successful.
An update on the “Finding Michell & James Butler” Facebook page read: “On-star has been contacted daily. First we started off with them talking into there truck for 15 minutes each time, never a response back. After we filed them missing we were able to gps ping the vechile. As of the 24th it says ‘out of servic.’ To this date it still reads that. I have asked them if the service was payed for which it was.. if not I was going to pay for it to further assist location. Kleburg County is doing everything in there power to locate our loved ones. They are looking into bank accounts, phone records, campgrounds, hospitals, beaches etc. They have gotten it on all Texas new stations as well. Back home we have put it in WMUR news as well.”
Lt. David Mendoza, who is leading the investigation, said they’re trying to identify the male and female. The man was driving the truck. At this time they don’t know if the man knew the Butlers or why the Butlers were killed.
In a series of Facebook posts following the press conference, one man has said that he believes he has seen the man in the photo and has reached out to Kleberg County. He said he’s almost certain that he saw the man on the beach on October 5 and spoke to him. He said the person was camped on North Beach and had a trailer in a bad state of disrepair. It’s not yet known if that is the same person in the photo.
You can watch the full press conference below.
If you have any information, please call the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office at 361-595-8500.