Almost one year to the day that Valerie Butler died, the man responsible for dumping her body in a field in Bridgeton has been sentenced.
St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Steven Goldman sentenced Florissant resident Paul Tripp to two years in prison for abandoning Butler’s body early last year. He pleaded guilty to the charge last month.
More than 10 people, including her fiancé, family and friends, gathered in the back of the courtroom wearing “In Loving Memory of Valerie Butler” T-shirts to hear the sentence Friday morning.
Butler’s cousin, Jessica Francis, spoke on behalf of her family to the judge before he carried out sentencing.
“Valerie was an amazing person,” she said to the judge. “She was not a piece of garbage. She did not deserve to be left in a field face down.”
Goldman said Tripp wrote a letter to him to say that he had intentions to change his life, and he requested probation for the charge. However, he did not feel comfortable in giving probation for the felony charge, and sentenced Tripp to two years in prison. This would be in addition to a sentence he received this past August of five years imprisonment regarding a drug charge in St. Charles County.
Butler went missing Feb. 10, 2011, after her car and belongings were found at Handlebars, a local bar on North Lindbergh. Her body was discovered about three weeks later on March 3 in a field in Bridgeton.
Butler’s family said following the hearing that they remain without closure.
“We didn’t get to say goodbye,” Francis said through streaming tears. “He couldn’t even say sorry.”
Vickie Butler, Valerie’s mom, said, “I think it’s unfair. I think he should have gotten more time. I believe there is a higher power that will get him.”
Valerie’s family has begun to take further action to prevent further deaths such as this.
Ed McCann, a friend of the family, carried a sign regarding “Valerie’s Law” to the courtroom. He said that it would give a higher penalty when there is drug-induced bodily harm or death involved in a case. He said that they’re currently working to speak to their legislator regarding the law.