Two men have been charged with the killing of a St. Louis mother who went missing over a decade ago after going to the store for milk.
Her remains were discovered in December 2022. The uncle-nephew duo were brought into custody as law enforcement seeks justice for a woman who they believed was strangled, beaten, and then hidden in Pontoon Beach, Illinois, woods near Route 111.
Patrenia “Trina” Butler-Turner, was last seen alive on Jan. 17, 2013. By the time her remains were discovered nearly 10 years later, police could only identify her by DNA samples extracted from her skeleton.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, law enforcement identified 55-year-old Roger Sutton Jr. of Pontoon Beach, Illinois, and his nephew 32-year-old Nathan Beyer of Alton, Illinois, as the men who concealed the body of the 40-year-old woman.
Sutton Jr. is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, a Class M felony, and one count of concealing the homicidal death of Butler-Turner, which is a Class 3 felony. Alton was charged with concealment of a homicidal death and helping to hide the body, a Class 3 felony.
The last time anyone, outside of her murderers, saw the former housekeeper alive was when she hitched a ride in a red pickup truck in East St. Louis.
Officers have not revealed the relationship between the two men and the deceased. However, Madison County State Attorney Thomas Haine did share details about one of the men’s criminal history at a press conference on Thursday.
Sutton Jr., who was already imprisoned for a methamphetamine two-year sentence felony conviction, was looking to be paroled from the Centralia Correctional Center on Valentine’s Day. After this sentence, instead of getting out, he will be transferred over to the Madison County Jail and held on a $3 million bond.
Pontoon Beach Police Chief Chris Modrusic said, “We moved pretty quickly on this knowing he was about to get out of prison.”
Sutton was a career criminal with arrests and past felony charges dating back to the mid-1990s and stretching to the drug conviction in 2021.
Some of the convictions were for residential burglary, battery, and unlawful restraint.
His nephew’s bail is set at $500,000.
Haine also spoke on law enforcement’s work to bring justice to Butler-Turner, “Today, we can now say that due to extraordinary police work, we believe we have found Trina’s body. We believe she was murdered and we believe we have found her killer.”
According to St. Louis Today, though her remains were found after authorities got a tip last December, it was not until the first day of Black History month that DNA confirmed her identity from an analysis of the remains they found.
Butler-Turner is survived by three children and four grandchildren.
Her daughter, Candace Burnett, thanked those who have been working on the case, reminding others about her mother’s character.
“She was a good mom and a good person, loving and caring,” Burnett said.
Burnett shared how she was told about the discovery of her mother.
“(Authorities) had the body for a month and a half before they knocked on our door,” said the 30-year-old Amazon delivery person. “They didn’t know whose body it was. “Just think about it. … Somebody’s bones laying out in the woods for 10 years with snow, rain, dirt, animals. It’s horrible.”
She also told the group she has no idea who the men were, adding, “I want that man to never get out of jail.”
Haine also had words for the bereaved daughter, who noted her mother did not get to see her youngest grandchild, saying, “We want to tell them we are so sorry for their loss.”
“Ten years is an incredibly long time. We did not forget Trina. You did not forget Trina. And we will fight for justice for Trina,” he said, adding, “We’re still waiting for evidence to come back from the crime lab.”
Police are still gathering evidence and turning to the public to help crack the rest of this case, specifically any connection between Butler-Turner and the suspects Sutton and Beyer. If so, individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Pontoon Beach Police Department’s detective division at 618-931-5100.