The Many Sides of Dr. Butler, Bubonic Suspect - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/16/03

The Many Sides of Dr. Butler, Bubonic Suspect

A day after the crush of national media descended on Lubbock, with fears of Bubonic Plague bantered about the airwaves, "Look, we have got to get this out there. This is not a cause for panic," said an analyst on MSNBC.

The man whom authorities believe is responsible for it all, who repeatedly lied to cover his tracks, had absolutely nothing to say. "Doctor, do you have any statement at all?" asked a reporter. His response was silence.

Dr. Thomas Butler, a seasoned professional of 15 years at Texas Tech, his family rebuffing the media, and neighbors saying off-camera that they're shocked. They describe Butler as a doting father who would ride bikes every day with his child.

Just last weekend, he attended a birthday party for his child's friend. A man who "couldn't do anything criminal." But Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office releases a three page affidavit with a statement from Dr. Butler admitting that he lied about the plague vials, telling his supervisor that they were missing two days after he accidentally destroyed them.

"I made a misjudgment by not telling him that the plague bacteria had been accidentally destroyed earlier than erroneously first found missing on January 11th, 2003," said Butler.

When further pressed for details, authorities say the lying continued, the doctor was vague but confident that the public wasn't in danger. 24 hours later, with 60 law enforcement agents working around the clock, all fingers pointed back to Butler. The doctor stating "that he did not realize it would require such an extensive investigation."

A grave miscalculation from a mind so admired by so many.

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