September 19, 2011

Family offering reward to find Farmington woman's killer

Money raised to be awarded for information on Grace Burton's fatal stabbing in June

FARMINGTON -- Family and friends of the 81-year-old woman who was fatally stabbed three months ago in her Farmington apartment have raised $14,300 to offer as a reward to help find her killer.

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FAMILY: Sheila Butterfield holds a portrait of her relative Grace Burton during a press conference in July at the apartment where Burton was killed in Farmington.

Staff file photo by David Leaming


Robert Butterfield, the son of Grace Burton, said donations may be sent to the Grace Burton Reward Fund in care of the Franklin Savings Bank, P.O. Box 825, Farmington, ME 04938. He said people seeking more information about donating can call him at 778-3599.

Robert Butterfield, the oldest son of Grace Burton, announced the amount last week on behalf of his mother's family and friends, he said.

"The reward money is for information that leads to an arrest and conviction for the murder of my mother on June 21," Butterfield, 62, said.

"There will be no closure until the guy is caught, and we won't have to be wondering anymore who it was. We need to see this guy brought in and to see justice is served for our mother," he said.

Investigators believe Burton's assailant is a slightly built male, who cut his hands and fingers during the 1 a.m. home invasion at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments at 195 Fairbanks Road.

State and Farmington police departments continue to investigate the case, and they hope the reward may provide some new leads, according to Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland.

"Anything that keeps this story in the forefront is helpful. The reward, we hope, will cause someone to come forward that we haven't talked to yet, with information that could break this case wide open," McCausland said.

McCausland described the case as being actively pursued by a team of investigators.

"We would have preferred this case be resolved earlier, but that does not stop our resolve to find who is responsible for Grace's murder," he said, declining to give other comments about the case.

Butterfield and Burton's four other children have been distributing fliers statewide about the reward and homicide investigation. They plan to keep accepting donations to build up the reward fund until the killer is caught, Butterfield said.

An auction held during Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28 raised about $8,000 toward the reward total. More than 60 people showed up despite heavy rain and high wind that hit Farmington that night, according to Butterfield.

"I was very grateful. It was a lot of my friends there, and everybody bid more than they should have and it was because they wanted to donate to the cause," he said.

The homicide shocked the rural northern Franklin County town of about 7,700 residents that is home to University of Maine at Farmington.

Farmington town police officers offered public safety tips at a forum in July, hoping to address growing fears in the community about the homicide and a series of other home invasions in neighboring towns.

The reward fund is the second public appeal made by Burton's family and friends to get people to call in with information about the homicide.

Julie Shaw, Burton's only daughter, made a tearful plea for help in finding the killer during a news conference a week after the slaying.

Police found a significant amount of the assailant's blood at the scene, but they have been unable to find a match for the blood from DNA samples taken from more than 150 men since the investigation began, according to Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck.

The man believed to be Burton's attacker was last seen walking along Fairbanks Road about 1:30 a.m., shortly after the June 21 home invasion, police said. He was wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with a black backpack.

Investigators believe he is a 5-foot, 7-inch male who they think had a small thin mustache at the time of the attack. He also suffered significant cuts on his hands, police said.

Investigators believe the assailant cut a screen and entered through the unlocked window in the back of Burton's first-floor apartment.

Burton called 911 after she was stabbed and died from her wounds later that morning at the hospital.

Officials said Maine State Police can be reached at 657-3030, Farmington police at 778-6311, and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office at 778-2680 or 911 on a cellphone.

David Robinson - 861-9287

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