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Henrico mom seeks son's killer: 'I have to do this for him'

Posted at 2:13 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 18:11:16-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Twenty-nine years after 16-year-old Marshall Ray Butler was found killed in a burning pick-up truck on Interstate 64, Butler's mother continues her push for justice.

Marie Butler Austin used the anniversary of her son's murder to once again share his story with the hope someone might come forward with information to catch his killer.

"I have to do this for him," Austin said Friday. "I'm just hopeful."

Marshall's body was discovered on August 23, 1991, when Henrico Fire was called to the I-64 west off-ramp onto Mechanicsville Turnpike.

"The Fire Division arrived on the scene and observed a white, 1979 Ford pick-up truck, where the hood was up, and the engine compartment was smoldering," a Henrico Police spokesperson wrote in an email. "The Fire Division extinguished the fire and [found] Butler, in the passenger floorboard of the truck, slumped over the seat, deceased. "

The teen, according to police, was severely beaten and had suffered multiple stab wounds. Austin said her son was stabbed 29 times.

"I can’t imagine how one human being could do to him what they did to him," she said. "He was the easiest going, and funny and joked around."

Austin said she bought her son the pickup truck just two weeks before he was murdered. She last spoke to her son 30 minutes before he was found dead.

"He said he was going to his girlfriend’s house in Highland Springs," Austin recalled.

They had recently moved to New Kent County where her son was trying to make friends, Austin said.

Witnesses told police they saw someone running from the burning truck and evidence removed from the vehicle has led investigators to two person(s) of interest.

"Witness statements, as well as evidence collected at the scene, have indicated Marshall was assaulted by more than one individual, and possibly by someone that was known to him," the police email continued. "Witnesses have suggested that the suspects may have been picked up in a vehicle by a third person after the murder occurred."

Austin spoke to reporters on Friday surrounded by framed photographs that she's kept of her son. One photo showed Marshall in a white tux at his mother's wedding - the same tux he would be buried in.

Austin said her son was a Cub Scout and a Sandston Little Leaguer for three years. But, his passion was music and playing the guitar. His dream job would've been to play in a heavy metal band.

It's hard for her to imagine what Marshall would look like as an adult, she said.

"If I never find out who killed him, God will take care of you," Austin told the killer.

Anyone with information was asked to call Detective Schihl at 804-501-5000 or Crime Stoppers 804-780-1000.