Man charged in connection to Teresa Butler cold case

Tallapoosa man charged in connection with the death of Teresa Butler part 2

NEW MADRID COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - New Madrid County authorities made an arrest in the Teresa Butler case.

Melvin Ray Hufford, 42, of Tallapoosa, Mo., was charged with first-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence. He is in the Pemiscot County Jail awaiting trial on unrelated charges out of New Madrid County.

His arraignment is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 25.

Hufford is accused of injecting Butler with methamphetamine the night she died, wrapping her body in a tarp and taking it out of the house, then stealing some items from the home in an attempt to make it look like the Butlers had been robbed.

Authorities have called Hufford a person of interest in the case from the very beginning.

Teresa Butler, a 35-year-old mother, went missing from her home in Risco, Mo. in January 2006.

Teresa Butler went missing from Risco, Missouri, on Jan. 25, 2006.
Teresa Butler went missing from Risco, Missouri, on Jan. 25, 2006.

In court documents, Hufford laid out a disturbing story that started the night of Teresa’s disappearance.

Investigators say Hufford admitted to doing methamphetamine with Teresa and a second man at the Butler home on January 24, 2006.

Court records indicate Hufford injected both of them with the drug, then Teresa said her chest hurt. Hufford said Teresa soon passed out and then didn’t have a pulse.

According to authorities, Hufford said they “freaked out,” wrapped Teresa’s body in a tarp, then tried to make it look like someone robbed the home. Hufford recalled grabbing several items, including a camcorder authorities later fished out of a ditch in 2007.

He also allegedly admitted to putting Teresa’s body under the sink of an abandoned house in Tallapoosa, where it stayed for a couple of years.

Tallapoosa man charged in connection with the death of Teresa Butler

On May 20, 2019, investigators looked for possible evidence in the home 4 miles south of Risco.

Teresa’s final resting place, according to Hufford, was a ditch south of Tallapoosa near County Road 253.

When we profiled Teresa’s case on Heartland Unsolved in March 2017, we learned police had identified and interviewed a suspect.

In December 2017, investigators searched for any evidence in the ditch.

Court documents indicate Teresa Butler’s remains have never been recovered.

Investigators and family said from the beginning that Teresa would have never willingly left her home that night, leaving her two and four-year-old sons home alone. According to the charges leveled against Melvin Ray Hufford, we now know she didn’t.

The 13-year-old cold case has been a personal one for investigators, especially New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens.

He kept a photo of Teresa in his office.

She went missing from his hometown of Risco, he said, and on his watch.

Stevens has often said the answer to her disappearance would come from New Madrid County.

The arrest of Melvin Hufford is something he called the pinnacle of his long, law enforcement career.

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