Details of Disappearance Teresa is believed to have disappeared from her residence on County Road 241, also known as Eight Ditch Road, just off of Highway 62 near Risco, Missouri on January 25, 2006. She was last heard from when she spoke to a relative on the phone at 10:00 p.m. the previous day.
Teresa's husband, Gary Dale Butler, was working the night shift and tried to call her on his lunch break, but the call went to voicemail and he assumed she was asleep. He came home at 10:00 a.m. on January 25 and found his wife missing and their two sons, aged two and four years, home alone. The younger boy had a full diaper and an empty bottle. Teresa has never been heard from again.
The family's video camera, PlayStation with games, Nintendo GameCube with games, large MagLite flashlight, digital camera and car stereo disappeared with Teresa, along with her purse and cellular phone, but her wedding rings, black leather jacket and her forest-green Jeep were left behind.
She normally took off her wedding rings every night before bed; the rings were found on the floor under the couch. There were no signs of forced entry to the home and no blood or indications that a struggle had taken place, but a key was found broken off in a lock at the residence, and the lightbulb on the front porch was unscrewed.
Cellular phone records revealed that a call was placed from Teresa's phone at 3:16 a.m. on the day of her disappearance, to a residence in Gideon, Missouri. The man who lived there did not answer the phone at the time. He said he didn't know Teresa or anyone in her family.
After her disappearance, her cellular phone was used to place a call to Clarkton, Missouri, to a home where two elderly women lived together. The women don't know Teresa either and stated they answered the phone but heard nothing from the other end. Authorities are uncertain why the calls were made.
Gary stated his wife was not having any problems prior to her disappearance, but her coworkers stated she had received upsetting phone calls from Gary's ex-wife. She told her father that Gary's ex-wife had threatened her. Gary has been ruled out as a suspect in her case, and maintains that the differences between Teresa and his former wife were amicably resolved.
A witness came to police and told them about a drug deal that supposedly happened within 24 hours of Teresa's disappearance, where drugs were exchanged for a video camera. After viewing its contents, the witness realized it was Teresa's. The police were able to recover the video camera in the spot the witness indicated, a water-filled ditch between Malden and Risco, but it had no serial number and there was no tape inside, so they couldn't prove it was Teresa's.
In November 2019, Melvin Ray Hufford Jr. was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in Teresa's case. A photo of Hufford is posted with this case summary. Authorities stated he had been a person of interest in her case since shortly after she disappeared, and that he had confessed to causing her death.
According to Hufford's statement, he, another man and Teresa were getting high on methamphetamine the night she disappeared. After he injected himself and her, she said her chest was hurting, then passed out and died. He then wrapped her body in a tarp and took it to a ditch, then stole items from her home to make her disappearance seem like a robbery.
Later, Hufford took Butler's body to his father's old abandoned house and hid it under a sink cabinet for a few years while he was in prison. After his release, he burned her remains, crushed the remaining bones and dumped them in a ditch. Hufford's father stated he had seen the body under the sink but hadn't touched it.
Hubbard is awaiting trial in Teresa's death. He has an extensive felony record, including drug offenses, and has served six prison sentences since 1997. Investigators don't believe the second man he implicated in Teresa's death was actually involved in her case, and they don't anticipate making any further arrests.
Teresa has no history of instability or of leaving without warning, and it would be uncharacteristic of her to leave her children unattended. She was employed in the photo department of Wal-Mart in Dexter, Missouri at the time of her disappearance, and was scheduled to work at noon on the day she went missing, but never showed up. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
- New Madrid County Sheriff's Office
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 24, 2019; details of disappearance updated.