Woman's slaying in South Park leaves an empty place
Tim Butz last saw his sister 10 days ago, when the two got together during a chance meeting in Chicago. "I told her I loved her and put...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Police seek suspectSeattle police said the assailant in the South Park attack was described as black, in his late 20s to early 30s, about 5 feet 9 to 6 feet tall, with a thin, muscular build, a thin mustache and "blotchy" skin.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Seattle police tip line at 206-233-5000, or Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 800-222-TIPS. Tips can also be texted to TIPS486, with a message to "crimes" (274637).
Source: Seattle Police Department
Tim Butz last saw his sister 10 days ago, when the two got together during a chance meeting in Chicago.
"I told her I loved her and put her in her a cab and never saw her again," Butz said Tuesday, breaking into sobs.
Teresa Butz, 39, was stabbed to death about 3 a.m. Sunday by a man who broke into her house in the South Park area of Seattle. Butz's partner, a 36-year-old woman, suffered stab wounds but survived. She was released Monday from Harborview Medical Center.
The assailant remains at large, which has left the South Park neighborhood on edge.
To calm fears, Seattle police parked a "mobile precinct," a recreational-size vehicle, in the area Tuesday.
"They got to get this guy," Tim Butz said, speaking by telephone from his home in a suburb of St. Louis, or he is "going to do it to somebody else."
Tim, 41, and Teresa Butz were particularly close as children, growing up in a big, rollicking household in South St. Louis overseen by their mother, a homemaker, and father, who owned an insurance agency. Tim was the eighth child in a family of eight boys and three girls. Teresa was the ninth child.
"When we were kids, we would spend hours playing catch," Butz recalled. "We would just practice drills for hours."
In a family dominated by boys, Teresa held her own, whether in a game of tennis or softball, or a family football game.
"My sister went toe-to-toe with all of us," Butz said.
She also played softball at the Catholic schools she attended in St. Louis, he said.
"Teresa was just full of energy and life and laughter, and she was an exceptional athlete," he said.
Butz, a grade-school teacher, said he was at a shopping mall Sunday when his wife, who was in a different part of the mall, got a call on her cellphone from his mother about the slaying. Butz said he immediately called his mother. He then fell to the ground.
Only a week earlier, Teresa and her partner had traveled to Chicago to visit a grade-school friend of Teresa's, he said.
On July 10, Teresa attended a baseball game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. "She was a die-hard Cardinal fan," he said.
Butz said Teresa sent a text message to him and his wife, informing them of her trip.
By chance, Butz said, he and his wife were heading to Chicago. He met up with his sister on Sunday.
"She looked beautiful," Butz said. "She was with her partner."
The Seattle couple, who had been together about two years, were preparing for a commitment ceremony in September and planned to travel to Barcelona, Spain, to celebrate Teresa's 40th birthday in October, he said.
"In love with Seattle"
After graduating from high school in 1988, Teresa Butz attended two colleges in Missouri before earning a business degree at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
In the early 1990s, one of their brothers got married in Seattle, where his bride lived, and family members gathered for the wedding.
"Teresa fell in love with Seattle. She had a special connection with that city," Tim Butz said.
But before moving to Seattle in the late 1990s, she worked as an executive housekeeper for two cruise lines, Butz said. Those jobs dovetailed with her love of travel, he said.
She later transferred to Seattle and began working in the hotel industry. For the past three years, she worked for The Regus Group, a company that provides office space to businesses.
"It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with her," the company said in a statement. "We will all miss Teresa as a professional colleague and a friend."
Teresa bought her house about two years ago, after living in a condominium, her brother said. She wanted a yard and a home.
Butz said she saw the opportunity to plunge into community activities and form relationships with neighbors.
"My sister is take-charge," he said. "She doesn't stand around. She chose that neighborhood because she loved it."
Last year, Butz joined the board of directors of the Compass Center, a social-service agency that helps low-income and homeless people find housing and other services.
Always "go, go, go"
After Teresa's slaying, her parents, Elaine and Norbert, traveled to Seattle, as did her two oldest brothers, who now run the insurance agency. The parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in St. Louis in May 2008, and Teresa was there.
The brother who married in Seattle lives in Issaquah, and another brother, Norbert Leo Butz, has been in Seattle preparing to perform in a new musical, "Catch Me if You Can," at the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Tim Butz said Teresa's partner told family members that Teresa had sacrificed herself to save the partner's life during the attack. A detective related the same information, he said, but Butz said he couldn't elaborate because of the investigation.
A next-door neighbor in South Park, Albert Barrientes, said Tuesday that the two women were able to get outside after the attack.
The partner was hysterical, Barrientes said. Teresa Butz, before she died, said of the attacker, "He told us if we did what he asked us to do he wouldn't hurt us. He lied, he lied," Barrientes said
Tim Butz said he plans to travel to Seattle on Monday.
It won't be like the trip three years ago, when he flew here to spend some time with his sister. She took him up to Tiger Mountain, saying it was a place she had climbed and gone hang-gliding, he said.
"My sister could talk me into a lot of things, but not jump off a mountain," he said.
But they did walk up the mountain, hand in hand, and watched the hang-gliders and parasailors.
Teresa always was "go, go, go," Butz said.
"She said you sleep when you die."
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle Times staff reporter Phillip Lucas and news researcher David Turim contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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