Joan Marie Butler
Missing since June 18, 1989 from Overland Park, Kansas
Circumstances of Disappearance
Joan Butler was last seen during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 18, 1989. She lived alone in Overland Park and was a buyer at a Kansas City advertising agency. She had spent Saturday evening in the company of friends. Evidence at her apartment indicates she made it home and was interrupted; the clothes she was wearing Saturday evening were there, along with a 1/2 eaten piece of toast, a 1/2 smoked cigarette, and one contact lens. She and her red Chevrolet Corsica rental car were missing, along with the $900 in her bank account. A neighbor reported hearing a loud thud at approximately 04:30 on the morning of Miss Butler's disappearance.
On June 25, the rental car was located in a Lenexa, KS, apartment complex. As law enforcement arrived and waited, a man approached the vehicle and opened the trunk. As he was approached by the police, he abruptly closed the trunk and was able to flee and escape apprehension. The car was preliminarily processed at the scene, and then further processed on June 26. Evidence from the interior of the car included fingerprints, belonging to Richard Grissom, as well as a wallet containing identification for Grissom and his many aliases. The glove compartment contained an air pistol, pellets and CO2 cartridges. In the trunk, a drop of blood, later linked to Miss Butler was found. Evidence from exterior of the car included scratches similar to those made by thick brush and small tree limbs, as well as a fine light dust and loose gravel on the underside. According to testimony during the 1990 trial, a close associate said he had first noticed Grissom driving the rental car on Tuesday morning, June 20.
On June 26, Christine Rusch and Theresa Brown, roommates, vanished from their apartment in Lenexa, KS. They were last seen on June 25, and Christine was last spoken to by phone on June 26. Two days later, Grissom's car, packed with all of his belongings, was found parked outside a Grandview apartment. Credit cards and jewelry belonging to Rusch and Brown were found in Grissom's abandoned car, along with keys to the apartments of the roommates and Butler. Grissom operated a painting company and had master keys to apartment complexes across the area.
On July 7, Richard Grissom was apprehended in Dallas, Texas, by the FBI. Detectives spent thousands of hours collecting evidence, among which was a security camera photograph of Rusch standing in front of an ATM machine on the night of June 26. Over-sized sunglasses cover her eyes, but what appears to be a large bruise is visible on her forehead. It is the last photograph of any of the women.
In 1990, Grissom was convicted of the murders of Joan Butler, Christine Rusch, and Theresa Brown. During the investigation, he alluded that the women's remains would not be located in Missouri because Missouri had the death penalty. Despite intensive searching both locally and across the country, the women have never been located.
Investigators Overland Park Police Department
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Overland Park Police Department
The Kansas City Star
The Dodge City Daily Globe
Suddenly Gone by Dan Mitrione
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