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Elaine Fogle’s murder case went cold for 37 years until James Butterfield was arrested: On the Case with Paula Zahn investigates

Mugshot of James Butterfield
James Butterfield was arrested in 2015 for the 1978 murder. Pic credit: Colleton County Sheriff’s Office

Elaine Fogle’s brutal rape and murder in her own home back in 1978 in Walterboro, South Carolina remained unsolved for nearly 40 years. In 2015 investigators finally arrested James Butterfield for the crime.

The original police report stated that 2 people had found their roommate, Elaine Fogle, 27, lying partially nude on the floor covered in blood. Police speculated that the hospital lab technician had returned home about 11:30 at night to find a robbery in progress.

She apparently tried to make a run for it, but was attacked, beaten, and raped. The autopsy revealed that she died of asphyxiation due to a fireplace poker being pressed to her neck.

After many false starts the case kept running cold, however, in May of 2015 Investigator Gean Johnson, was assigned the case, and he threw all his energies into getting a result.

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The evidence from the scene of the crime had been meticulously preserved, and this meant that due to new technologies and advancements in forensic science fresh tests could be performed.

James Butterfield, a local man, was arrested in December 2015 he was charged with murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary. Butterfield hadn’t previously been considered a suspect.

Walterboro Police Chief Wade Marvin has said of the case and Johnson that “I think it took a fresh set of eyes, I think it took someone from the outside that had never been involved with the case before.”

Butterfield has still not stood trial for the crime yet, as he has been determined mentally unfit to do so, he currently resides in the Craft-Farrow mental health facility in Columbia where he was ordered to stay after committing previous crimes.

He has a criminal record dating back to 1978 that includes kidnapping, robbery, forgery, domestic violence, and illegally disposing of a dead body.

On The Case with Paula Zahn airs Sunday 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry Brown


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