Man under stay-away order kills girlfriend, self

Friday, December 4, 1998

BY SHEILA McLAUGHLIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIAMI TOWNSHIP -- Bobbie Butcher told prosecutors she didn't want her boyfriend to go to jail for choking her two weeks ago. She just wanted him to stay away.

On Thursday, a week after Sean Gibson pleaded guilty to the assault and was put on probation, both lay dead at a Clermont County apartment complex in an apparent murder-suicide. Miami Township police said Mr. Gibson, 26, confronted Ms. Butcher outside Building 200 at Arrowhead Apartments off Branch Hill Guinea Road about 7:30 a.m.

After a brief argument in the parking lot, he apparently shot the 21-year-old receptionist twice with a high-power rifle, and once more as she tried to run inside the building, Lt. Daryl Poe said.

As Ms. Butcher lay dying from three gunshot wounds, just inside the doorway, Mr. Gibson calmly stepped out of the building, walked up to woods nearby and ended his own life with a single shot.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

The violent altercation ended a two-year relationship that took a stormy turn three weeks ago. Mr. Gibson attempted to strangle Ms. Butcher as she tried to collect her belongings from the apartment they shared on Happy Hollow Road in Milford.

According to Milford police reports and Clermont County Municipal Court records, Mr. Gibson was charged with domestic violence after he appeared at a Milford convenience store Nov. 19 and told the clerk he had taken nine Darvocet pills in an attempt to kill himself because he had just choked his girlfriend.

The clerk called police, who took Mr. Gibson to a hospital, tracked down Ms. Butcher and filed the domestic violence charge the following day.

Mr. Gibson was out of jail on a $2,000 bond when he pleaded guilty in municipal court on Nov. 24.

Ms. Butcher did not attend the hearing. After prosecutors contacted her by phone before the sentencing, Clermont Municipal Judge James Shriver suspended a 90-day sentence, placed Mr. Gibson on probation for three years, ordered him to perform 40 hours of community service, to continue counseling through a private psychiatrist and to stay away from Ms. Butcher.

"She did not want him incarcerated. She just wanted him to not have any contact with her," Judge Shriver said.

According to Judge Shriver, Mr. Gibson, an employee of Freightliner Trucks of Cincinnati, was a first-time domestic violence offender. Police said there were no indications that Mr. Gibson had been bothering Ms. Butcher since the court case.

"A (restraining) order is a piece of paper. There is nothing you can do to stop it," Clermont County Prosecutor Donald White said.

"Obviously, he was a guy that needed help. I don't think anybody saw the signs."

But, those signs were becoming apparent, said Dr. Terry Henehan, who hired Ms. Butcher at his Milford veterinary clinic a year ago and was sure something was not right.

"I think Sean's personality had changed recently. He had alienated himself from most of his friends in the last year. He was very possessive of her at this point in time," Dr. Henehan said.

He wouldn't elaborate, but said Ms. Butcher was trying to help Mr. Gibson "work through his problems." But she decided she couldn't help him and that "she needed to get away." Mr. Gibson was seeing a psychiatrist after the Nov. 19 incident, according to police and court records.

Dr. Henehan said Ms. Butcher, a former beautician, had moved to the Happy Hollow Apartments from Pomeroy, in Meigs County, to be with Mr. Gibson when he was hired for a job in the Cincinnati area.

She had left him prior to the assault and was attempting to move her belongings when Mr. Gibson attacked her on Nov. 19, he said. Dr. Henehan described Ms. Butcher, a twin, as an outgoing, caring and trusting woman who was so devoted to her family that she made a three-hour trip to Pomeroy almost every weekend to be with them. Officials at Freightliner Trucks of Cincinnati, would not talk about Mr. Gibson.

A woman who identified herself as Mr. Gibson's mother declined comment, saying only "I'm just kind of confused right now" as she left the complex in tears.

Lt. Poe said that Mr. Gibson's mother had recently moved to the Cincinnati area to be with her son "because he was distraught."

Bryan Stamper, a resident of Happy Hollow Apartments, said he saw Ms. Butcher moving her belongings out less than a week ago.

"I can't believe it. They were never violent. He was too nice of a guy to do that," Mr. Stamper said after learning that Mr. Gibson and Ms. Butcher were dead.

Residents in Building 200 were equally horrified after they heard the gunshots Thursday morning.

"I had no idea. I thought it was kids throwing firecrackers in the mailboxes," said Susan Williams, who lives in a basement apartment across the hall from Ms. Butcher.

She said she looked out her window to see a young man walking calmly down the front steps and into the parking lot. She wasn't aware of the shooting until residents began congregating in the hallway.

The bodies were taken to the coroner's officer for autopsies. Mr. Gibson's wound, a single gunshot to the head, appeared to be self-inflicted, Lt. Poe said. The gun was found propped under his chin, authorities said.



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