Crime

How Eating a Candy Bar at Crime Scene Led to Joe Love's Bust for Ed Butler Murder

Update: It took a year, but an arrest has finally been made in the murder of Agate's Ed Butler. Joe Robert Love, a 26-year-old from Colorado Springs, is currently in custody in El Paso, Texas, for a slaying solved with assistance from video footage showing the suspected killer eating a candy bar and spinning in place at the scene of the crime.

Two previous posts have been incorporated into our latest coverage.

Butler's online obituary reads in part:
Ed was born in Denver, Colorado on November 9, 1947 to parents Walter and Betty Butler. He was a lifelong resident of Agate, Colorado. He graduated from Agate High School in 1965. He attended the University of Colorado Boulder and Northeastern Junior College Sterling before returning to his passion, the ranch, at Agate. He married his lifetime partner, Donna, on September 18, 1967. 

Ed carried on the legacy of his father and was dedicated to protecting and enriching the ranch and farmland of Eastern Elbert County. He served 17 years as the President of the Agate Soil Conservation Board and served in several positions for the Colorado Soil Conservation Board. He was a lifetime member and a longtime deacon of the Agate Community Church. He was also a member of the Elbert County Sheriff’s Posse. Ed was an avid member of the NRA and enjoyed shooting guns of all types. He enjoyed playing and “winning” any type of card or board game. Ed enjoyed the great outdoors and was always either riding his quad or motorcycling throughout the ranch at Agate. He and Donna enjoyed traveling and visiting with family and friends.
Neighbors knew Butler as a stand-up guy. That's yet another reason why his murder, which appears to have taken place while he was in the middle of a cell-phone call, was so shocking.

At about 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2016, according to the Elbert County Sheriff's Office, law enforcers responded to a residence east of Agate.

The initial call suggested a burglary in progress — but the crime turned out to be much more serious than that.

Investigators maintained that Butler used to own the property on which the killing took place — and when he saw something amiss there, he phoned the friend then residing there, and for whom he was watching the place.

Butler wanted to know if his pal had given anyone else permission to be there.

After the friend answered in the negative, Butler replied, "Well, I'm going to go in."

Once he did so, he was heard asking, "What are you doing here?"

And then the phone went dead.

At that point, the friend called a neighbor, who hurried over to the property — and found Butler dead of apparent gunshot wounds.

Days later, the sheriff's office shared several person-of-interest photos, including this close-up shot.

At first, the sheriff's office didn't reveal the origin of these photos. 

The following month, however, the ECSO provided 9News with actual video from inside the trailer, which had been outfitted with a camera.

As noted, the clip shows the man eating candy and spinning in a manner that suggested to sheriff's department representatives that he could be suffering from "some kind of psychosis."

Here's that footage.


Now, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office is revealing that Love was located in El Paso by its own investigators, as well as law enforcers assigned to the 18th Judicial District DA's office.

Shortly thereafter, local authorities took him into custody.

Love is currently awaiting extradition to Colorado on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Thus far, no details about what led authorities to Love have been released. But his booking photo certainly bears a strong resemblance to the man in the video footage.

That image is below.


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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts