To catch a killer in Langley took old-fashioned police work, documents released in B.C. Supreme Court reveal.
Two drug-addicted prostitutes had been killed within four months of each other in 2007 — but in two different cities.
The MOs (modus operandi) were the same, but the cases were being looked at separately.
Investigators really had no leads in the death of Abbotsford prostitute Gwendolyn Lawton.
There were no witnesses and no evidence at the scene. Torrential rain had all but washed away any evidence on the secluded Pemberton Hill in Abbotsford where her body was found dumped down an embankment.
But in the murder case of Langley City prostitute Sheryl Lynn Koroll, the killer didn’t get off so lucky. Surveillance footage at the Mufford Crescent concrete plant where her body was found showed an older model white Chevy Cavalier driving in, the driver taking something out of the trunk, and leaving again on the morning her body was found.
The vehicle actually returned a short while later and the driver got out, stepped out of view, and later drove away. The car on the surveillance tape had a luggage rack on the trunk. There was also unique ‘Van’ shoe impressions at the scene as well as distinctive tire marks on the victim’s wrist and on the ground. The tire track on her wrist matched that of a BF Goodrich tire, police quickly learned.
So police narrowed down the two-door Chevy Cavalier seen on the video as one made between 1988 and 1994. It was white in colour, with a sun roof and luggage rack.
Police investigating Koroll’s murder obtained a list from ICBC of all the white Chevy Cavaliers in the Lower Mainland which matched that description.
There were 60 to 70 of them.
The police interviewed a number of registered owners of white Cavaliers that had sun roofs and trunk luggage racks. They developed a standardized list of questions to be asked of the registered owners of any such vehicles they approached.
Police knew they were looking for a vehicle with a BF Goodrich tire. Different teams of officers set out to interview the registered owners of those vehicles and Butorac was the first such check made by Cpl. Koppang and Cpl. Michaud, the documents stated. They were revealed in court in August, 2010, after he had been found guilty of two counts of murder.
The information about the investigation came out of a voir dire decision (a trial within a trial) which required that this information not be released during the trial, unless the judge deemed the Crown had a right to include it as evidence.
When police arrived at Butorac’s Aldergrove home, they found he was not only the owner and driver of a white Cavalier with BF Goodrich tires, with a sun roof and luggage rack, but he was also wearing distinctive Van shoes.
He later told police they were his only pair of shoes. Those shoes contained blood from Koroll, splattered on his shoelace and in the grip of the sole, the jury heard in his trial.
Butorac worked at a bakery in Gloucester Estates at the time. When he was arrested and brought to a cell, some interesting conversations emerged from an undercover operation.
In a conversation Butorac had with an undercover officer posing as his cellmate, the Aldergrove killer even mentioned notorious serial killer Robert Pickton.
Butorac said that Pickton was ‘stupid for giving a 12-hour statement.’ He told his cellmate he wouldn’t be talking.
Butorac also discussed a past trespassing charge where he mistakenly made a statement to police and that the police “depend” on people to talk.
Butorac wasn’t well known to police nor was he on their radar for anything. It was really his vehicle that was caught on tape that helped him become suspect number one in Koroll’s murder.
Then DNA from his vehicle led police to look in Butorac’s direction in trying to solve Lawton’s murder.
As the jury learned at his trial, Butorac wasn’t known to the local prostitutes, nor was he known on the ‘bad date’ list.
In July, 2010, Butorac was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder in relation to the deaths of Lawton and Koroll by a jury in Supreme Court.
Both were slight, Caucasian, and approaching 50 years of age. Both women died violent deaths, with blunt trauma injuries to their heads and strangulation.
Butorac’s reasons or motivation for killing these older women may never be known, however. Motivation was never part of his trial. Butorac never took the stand. A friend of his did though, revealing that the two liked to smoke pot together and drive around Langley.
He is facing a third murder charge in the death of Aldergrove’s Margaret Redford. Her body was found in Bertrand Creek on May 20, 2006, just blocks from where Butorac was living with his father. It’s expected that this upcoming trial will also be focused on forensics.