NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office revealed new information about the death that resulted in Lester Thomas Butcher getting arrested in Chandler on a first-degree murder charge Monday night.
According to the press release East Texas News obtained Wednesday as a result of a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, NCSO deputies went out to a home on County Road 817 on a call that was initially a welfare concern early Sunday morning. When they got there, they found a man's body in the residence, and "[t]here were obvious signs that the victim had been murdered."
The victim in the case was identified as James Steitler, and an autopsy has been ordered, the press release stated. According to Steitler's Facebook page, he went to Central Heights High School.
Butcher, 54, of Chandler, is still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail on a first-degree felony murder charge. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dorothy Tigner-Thompson said that she set Butcher's bail amount at $1 million Tuesday night.
After the NCSO deputies arrived at the home on CR 817 at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday and found Steitler's body, investigators with the sheriff's office and the Texas Rangers were called to the scene.
"About 12 hours later after the initial call came in, Investigators and the Texas Rangers were able to identify a suspect in the case and establish probable cause for an arrest warrant," the affidavit stated. "During the course of the investigation, it was found that the suspect who had been identified as Lester Butcher had fled to Henderson County, Texas near the city of Chandler."
The press release also stated that limited information is being released in the case because it is an ongoing investigation.
According to records with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Butcher's criminal record goes back to 1992. Robert Hurst, a TDCJ spokesman, stated that Butcher was first booked into prison on June 28, 1993. Hurst said Butcher was convicted and sentenced in Nacogdoches County on Nov. 30, 1992, for the crimes of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary of a habitation, escape, and an additional burglary of a habitation.
Records show that Butcher was given a 50-year sentence for the first three crimes and another 10 years for the second burglary.
Butcher only served two years in the prison system. In August of 1995, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and removed all charges. Hurst said records show Butcher was discharged from the TDCJ prison system on August 31, 1995.