Lesbian Sister of Tony Winner Norbert Leo Butz Murdered in Seattle

by Tim Klass

Associated Press

Wednesday July 22, 2009

Police intensified their hunt Tuesday for a man who fatally stabbed one Seattle woman and wounded another as they slept - a suspected random attack that has alarmed the community.

Upwards of 75 to 100 of Seattle's 750 uniformed officers are on the case, Assistant Police Chief Nicholas J. "Nick" Metz told The Associated Press. The effort includes increasing patrols, reassigning community service officers, and deploying a "mobile precinct" to aid in the dragnet.

According to investigators, a slender but muscular man around 30 and about 6 feet tall apparently entered a home through an open window in the industrial South Park section of Seattle about 3 a.m. Sunday and repeatedly stabbed two women, in what police believe was a random attack.

"Why he picked this house, we don't rightly know," he said. "We don't know if South Park is where he wants to be or whether he's going to move on to other places."

The mobile precinct is a recreational vehicle-sized rolling police station, which can hold up to eight officers and is equipped with a holding room, restroom, computers and other gear. Officer Renee S. Witt said said it will remain in South Park "until we catch this guy."

The FBI, Washington State Patrol and other agencies have been consulted to try to determine the identity of the fugitive, and laboratory test also may shed some light, Metz said.

It's obvious the community has been very fearful of what happened, and rightly so," he said. "This is our number one priority investigation right now."

About 400 people jammed into the South Park Community Center to hear from police Monday evening.

"Our community's in shock right now. We've been terrorized," said Tim Smith, an area resident.

Metz said the women tried to fight the attacker off.

One of the women, identified by neighbors as Teresa Butz, 36, managed to break free, smashed a window and leaped outside, followed by her partner, he said.

Both women, covered in blood, ran screaming from the modest one-story house and the man fled on foot. Horrified neighbors watched as Butz died before aid could arrive. Her partner, 39, was treated for multiple stab wounds at Harborview Medical Center and has been released.

Before Butz died, "she told me that the guy had told them to do what he asked them to do and he wouldn't harm them," Albert Barrientes, a neighbor, told KOMO Television. "She turned around and said, 'Albert, he lied.'" Barrientes did not elaborate.

The two "were just about to get married," said Christine Cherif, a neighbor.

Metz said police had not established a motive for the attack and had not ruled out a sex or hate crime. He would not comment on whether either or both of the women had been sexually assaulted.

The two women had moved recently to South Park, a residential enclave in a heavily industrialized area west of the Duwamish River and Boeing Field.

Butz was on the board of Compass Center, a social-service agency that helps low-income and homeless people find housing and other services, and she and her partner were active in the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

She was "extremely compassionate and dedicated and really believed in the common good," Rick Friedhoff, executive director of the Compass Center, told The Seattle Times.

Seattle has recorded nine homicides so far in 2009, historically "a pretty low number" for the city, Metz said. "Of course, the numbers don't really mean a thing to a community or a family."

Editor's note: Her brother, who won a Tony Award for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and is an established Broadway star--his credits include "Rent' and "Wicked"-- was reportedly in Seattle at the time to rehearse an upcoming musical version of the film "Catch Me If You Can," which has been indefinitely postponed, as detailed in additional AP report below. Teresa was one of 11 siblings.

Preview performances of a world premiere musical in Seattle have been canceled because of the killing of a sister of one of the stars.

Norbert Leo Butz, who has a lead role in "Catch Me If You Can," is a brother of 39-year-old Teresa Butz. She was killed and her partner severely wounded early Sunday morning by a man who attacked them as they slept in their home.

The attacker remained at large Wednesday despite an intense manhunt.

The 5th Avenue Theatre has canceled the first two preview performances of "Catch Me If You Can" on Thursday and Friday nights.

The show is based on a 2002 Steven Spielberg film, and backers hope to take it to Broadway. The show's run in Seattle ends on Aug. 16.

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