KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dozens of questions remain unanswered for an East Tennessee family. Last week, remains found in Monroe County were identified as a beloved father and brother who had been missing for several years.
Harmony Garcia told WATE that she knows her brother is in a better place.
“He loved God and that’s one thing that’s gave us peace. We know that he’s with God. We get messages on a regular basis of people’s stories of what happened to him.” Garcia said.
An investigation is active in Monroe County to determine the circumstances of how Luke Michael “Gator” Butler died.
“It’s really devastated our family,” Garcia said. “We’ve proven what we’ve been saying all along that something happened to him, something bad.”
Butler’s family had been waiting for more than three years for him to walk through their door since he was reported missing. Unfortunately, remains found in late October by a hunter were positively identified as Butler just a few days before Thanksgiving.
According to Garcia, Butler’s skull and an unidentified femur were located a mile and a half from her mother’s house.
Garcia said, “That short of a distance away is kind of unreal for us because as much effort we put in as a family ourselves, it’s just like, ‘wow, a mile and half away. We walked everywhere you could think of.’ Anywhere anybody has ever told us there was a possibility he could be, we’ve walked it.”
Butler had a drug issue at one point during his life and his older sister says they had a rough childhood, however, Garcia does not believe her brother overdosed.
“Some people have said, ‘Maybe he took his life.’ No, he loved his four kids. He has four kids, and he loves his kids. I mean, he was not by any means perfect but none of us are. But his children was his world, he would have never left his kids,” she said.
As Butler’s family remembers his big personality and unconditional love, their fight for justice continues.
“I’ve fought for three years,” Garcia said. “Me and my family all have, and I just feel like it’s not over and we can’t let them forget. There’s still somebody out there that knows what’s happened and they need to come forward and say what’s happened. Give our family peace. Nobody should have to go through what we’ve been through, and I wish somebody would put their selves in our shoes and come forward.”
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The investigation into Butler’s disappearance and death is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding Butler is encouraged to contact the TBI or the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Garcia would like to thank the TBI agent who she says has gone the extra mile in her brother’s case.
Funds are being raised to cover costs for Butler’s memorial service and burial. Click here to help.