Nearly three decades after son’s murder, Virginia mom still pleads for answers: ‘Come forward and tell what you know’

Virginia

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The mother of a 16-year-old Henrico County boy who was killed in 1991 is pleading for help in solving her son’s decades-old cold case.

Marie Butler Austin’s only child, Marshall Ray Butler, was found dead on Aug. 23, 1991.

“He would be 45 and a lot of his friends have grown children, have grandchildren, which I will never have,” Austin said.

Austin clearly remembers the day her son was killed. Between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m., she got a call from Marshall. He was working on the Ford F-150 pick-up truck that Austin had recently gotten for him before school started. Marshall told his mother that he would swing by the hair salon she owned to get money for some car parts. 

“He never came back,” Austin added.

Around 4 p.m. that day, Henrico County Fire responded to a vehicle on fire on the Interstate-64 west ramp onto Mechanicsville Turnpike. It was Marshall’s truck. The hood was up, and the engine was smoking. Marshall was found dead in the passenger floorboard, slumped over the seat. 

Marie Butler Austin’s only child, Marshall Ray Butler, was found dead on Aug. 23, 1991

“He had been beaten and stabbed to death,” said Austin.

Nearly 29 years later, Austin still does not know who killed her son or why. She describes Marshall as funny and easy-going. He was a cub scout, baseball player and had a passion for music.

“I just can’t imagine how one human being could do to him what they did to him,” Austin said.

Henrico Police said evidence and fingerprints from Marshall’s truck identified two persons of interest in the case. Dozens of witness statements show Marshall was likely assaulted by more than one person, and possibly someone known to him.

Police said the suspects may have been picked up by a third person in a vehicle after the murder.

Marshall’s truck was found with the hood up and engine smoking. He was found dead in the passenger floorboard, slumped over the seat. 

After waiting nearly three decades, Austin said the detectives on the case now have some promising leads. She begs anyone with information, no matter how small, to come forward.

“I realize he was only 16 and they were scared. I mean, these kids were in high school. They probably thought if they said anything, that it would happen to them, so I don’t blame them, but I wish that now that 29 years has gone by, that you would please just call and tell what maybe Marshall told you or if somebody was after him. I just beg for you to come forward and tell what you know,” Austin said.

Henrico Police and Marshall’s family ask anyone with information to contact Detective Schihl at (804) 501-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

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