The man accused of killing a West Jordan couple in their home last month before fleeing to California is back in Utah — and facing multiple murder charges.
Salt Lake County prosecutors announced Wednesday that they have filed aggravated murder charges against Albert Johnson, 31, in the shooting deaths of Tony and Katherine Butterfield. He also faces counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, in addition to aggravated burglary and other charges.
Police said Johnson broke into the Butterfields’ home on April 18, killing the couple and taking some of their belongings. The Butterfields’ three young children, ages 4, 2 and 6 months, were home at the time and were not harmed.
He then went to California, where he was arrested after a tussle with police, leaving him visibly injured in his mugshot.
His wife, Sina Johnson, has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly cleaning up evidence and lying to police about seeing her husband after the Butterfields had been killed.
Johnson told investigators, according to court documents, that he was worried about finances. He said he knew the Butterfields and “believed they had money," and that he went to their house to “get money.”
Wearing a mask, he allegedly kicked in the door of the home and went to the couple’s bedroom upstairs, forcing them out of bed. He took them downstairs, collected money and their cellphones and left, documents said. He said he left the house with $20 and the cellphones, police said.
But when he got to the car, he realized he didn’t have his car keys, Johnson told investigators. He went back, not wearing a mask, and that’s where he met Tony Butterfield again.
Tony Butterfield recognized Johnson, and called Johnson by his first name, asking him, “Why?” Documents then say that Tony Butterfield stabbed Johnson. The stabbing was so painful that he shot Tony Butterfield, Sina Johnson allegedly said.
When Katherine Butterfield saw this and started screaming, Johnson thought he saw a neighbor outside, so he shot Katherine too, court documents allege.
That’s when a neighbor called police to report gunfire and a woman’s scream. Johnson then retrieved his car keys, prosecutors say, and drove to his apartment before leaving for California.
Police arrived later to find the couple’s bodies near the back door. Kitchen knives were next to both, and investigators said Johnson had been stabbed, according to an unsealed declaration filed in connection with the arrest warrant.
Investigators linked Johnson to the crime scene using a bloody fingerprint found on the frame of the back door, the documents said.
Police said they later found $200, not $20, at his house, placed inside a book. They found his clothes in a dumpster outside, “stained with a significant amount of blood.” Charges allege Sina Johnson discarded them.
Investigators also found blood throughout the apartment and two packed suitcases of his clothing, according to a warrant document.
Johnson allegedly threw the murder weapon, a handgun, into a river in California.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said it was too early to say whether prosecutors will pursue the death penalty if Johnson is convicted, but he noted it is an option.
Johnson was convicted of aggravated battery in California in 2011.