CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The two bodies found buried at a South Texas beach have been identified as a missing New Hampshire couple, investigators announced Friday.
The deaths of James Butler, 48, and Michelle Butler, 46, are being investigated as homicides, the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office in Texas said in a release.
“At present law enforcement officers are working on the investigation and are working on identification of persons of interest and attempting to find the whereabouts of the victims’ truck and RV trailer,” the release stated.
On Sunday, a deputy located a woman’s remains in a shallow grave on Padre Island, near Corpus Christi, the sheriff’s office said. Chief Deputy Jaime Garza said a man’s body was discovered beneath the first body the following day.
The sheriff’s office had announced last week that the Butlers were reported missing, along with their truck and RV. Relatives said the pair had been traveling the country in a recreational vehicle since June of 2018 and were last heard from on Oct. 16. They said they believed the Butlers visited Padre Island.
Deborah van Loon, Butler’s sister, said the couple most recently had worked as gate guards for oil rigs in Texas, checking vehicles in and out. She also stated that they were in frequent contact with family and shared photographs of their trip on Facebook.
“We all loved what they were doing and they loved sharing it with us,” said van Loon, who described her brother as an all-around man.
He had retired from the Navy in 2010 and came back to Rumney, New Hampshire, after he retired when his mother was dying of cancer, van Loon said. He later met Michelle and the two got married in 2015.
The couple was likely headed to a part-time job in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and due to arrive there in November to sell Christmas trees, she said.
The Butlers had set up their truck and RV near Beach Market 263 on Padre Island on Oct. 15, the sheriff’s office said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)