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Investigators trying to locate family of murder victim Sherri Colleen Butler

By Howard B. Owens

Investigators have been unable to locate the family of Sherri Colleen Butler, the woman found dead two mornings ago in a room at the Sunset Motel on West Main Street Road, Batavia, so they released her name today in the hope somebody will see it and contact them with more information about her.

As far as investigators know, Butler has been living at the Sunset Motel since the January 2014 when deputies first had contact with her.

She has a record of prior law enforcement contacts in Rochester.

Not much else is known about here, said Undersheriff Gregory Walker during a press conference this morning.

Butler is described as a white female, age 59.

She was last seen alive Friday or Saturday.

Emergency dispatch received a call at 11:57 a.m. Monday of an unresponsive woman in a room at the motel. One of the motel's owners, Kevin Bezon, went to check on her because she hadn't been seen in a couple of days.

Sgt. Ron Meides was the first officer on scene and he immediately determined Butler was dead and the circumstances of her death seemed suspicious.

A medical examiner has ruled her death a homicide. The cause of death was "blunt-force trauma to the carotid artery."

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said Butler had no other serious injuries. He would not say whether there was evidence of a related crime, such as robbery or sexual assault. 

There was no drug paraphernalia in the room.

There was no sign of forced entry. 

Brewster said no information will be released at this time on whether there is a suspect or suspects.

“It’s hard to assume whether it was somebody she knew or not,” Walker said.

Like all the residents of the motel, Butler paid her rent on a weekly basis. Co-owner Lynn Bezon said Butler always paid her rent on time and was a pleasant resident.

"She was a sweet lady," Bezon said.

Butler's prior police contact did include an arrest, according to available information. She was arrested in May 2014 for harassment, 2nd, and trespass. She was arrested in July 2014 on a warrant for criminal contempt.

Homicides remain rare in Genesee County. The most recent cases include the last one on Dec. 1, 2015, when Kyle Johnson killed Norman Ball on Selden Road in Le Roy. In December 2014, Baby Chandler died of head trauma and Jeffrey L. Deats was charged with manslaughter. A few days later, Deats took his own life while in custody. In 2009, Scott Doll killed Joseph Benaquist in Pembroke.

The unsolved murders in the county include Bill Fickel, Annie Lee, Eddie Freson and Kisha Sullivan.

Asked how he thought this case might be a hard case to solve, Brewster said, "I never go into one thinking I’m not going to win."

Solving the Butler case though may hinge, Brewster said, on the cooperation of people who aren't normally comfortable talking with the police.

"Because she lived in a motel unit and paid week-to-week, she would have been in contact with people that are similarly fixed and sometimes these people don’t really communicate with the police," Brewster said. "We’re hoping that when they realize this woman has been murdered that they may decide step outside themselves and help the police for once. They could be a big help to us if they decide to come forward."

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