On the night of December 23, 2003, two friends dropping off Christmas gifts at the home of 40-year old Raymond “Butch” Weed were shocked to find their friend, a well-known and beloved member of the Wilton, Maine community, was dead. Sometime between his regular visit to his favorite hangout in downtown Wilton and returning home just a quarter mile away on Main Street, an unknown assailant entered Butch’s home and stole his life.
To this day, a suspect has never been apprehended, and Maine State Police have remained tightlipped about any details they’ve learned over the course of a nearly 20 year investigation. Butch’s family members hold out hope that they won’t have to wait much longer to know who killed their brother, and finally see justice handed down to the person or persons responsible.
This case has been requested dozens of times by Dark Downeast listeners. The emails and DMs I’ve received over the last two years all spoke highly of the man at the center of the case, but a few of those messages also suggested that there might be more to the case than meets the eye. Wilton, Maine is a small town, and for such a high profile case to go unsolved this long, rumors are rampant.
If you have information regarding this case, please contact the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit – South at (207) 624-7076 x9 or toll free at 1-800-452-4664. You may also report information about this crime using the leave a tip form.
Raymond “Butch” Weed
Raymond Weed, better known as Butch to friends and Butchy to his siblings, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the middle child of five kids. He was a deeply devoted family man, and he gave his all to everything he did, whether it was showing up for his family whenever they needed him, helping out his friends and neighbors, skillfully building and renovating the homes of his clients, or volunteering his time for his community.
Though he didn’t move to Wilton, Maine until 1985, Butch Weed was part of the fabric of the town, and it seemed everyone in Wilton knew Butch. Later, even police would remark just how renowned Butch truly was.
Butch loved kids and dreamed of having his own someday. Until then, his wife had a son from a previous relationship when they got married, and Butch helped raise him. Butch was also a very present and caring uncle. Newspaper clippings include numerous photos of Bruce holding babies, smiling gently as he cradled his brand new nieces and nephews against his chest.
Around 2001, Butch and his wife divorced. It was a challenging time but Butch leaned on his faith and found happiness in his family, and stayed busy with his thriving business. As reported by Lisa Chmelecki in her piece “Homicide in a Small Town” published in the Sun-Journal, Butch struggled with more traditional schooling as a teenager, and so he attended a technical school in the afternoons where he learned carpentry. That afternoon program turned into Butch’s career.
He worked for a few other construction companies out of state and in Maine before breaking out on his own. Butch opened New Horizons Builders in Wilton, and he and his crew of six full-time employees worked on big new builds and renovations in Franklin County.
Wilton Town Manager Richard P. Davis told Larry Grard for the Morning Sentinel that Butch was a very busy, hands-on guy with a lot of projects going on. But even though his business stayed steady, he was very involved in his community and loved lending a helping hand whenever someone needed it. He attended Farmington Baptist Church where he also taught Sunday school and he coached Little League football. Davis said, “He was one of the nicest people I ever met.”
Butch was a member of the Lions Club and was always a big part of the club’s yard sales as well as the blueberry pancake breakfast for the local blueberry festival. A fellow member of the Lions Club, state representative Thomas Saviello, told the Morning Sentinel, “In my experience, he wanted to help the community in every way he could.”
Butch also plowed driveways in the winter – having a reliable plow guy in Maine is crucial – and many of the driveways he did for free. Lisa Chmelecki wrote in her piece “Homicide in a Small Town” that Butch’s brother, Bill Weed, recalled a phone conversation one winter night when Butch had just finished a 10 hour day on the road clearing snow from over 40 driveways. He was clearly exhausted, but Bill told Butch, “Just think of all the money you’ll be taking to the bank.” Butch responded, “If I can even remember what driveways I did. It’s not like I bill ‘em.”
One of those pro bono driveways was Butch’s neighbor, Calvin. According to Samanta C. DePoy’s reporting for the Lewiston Sun-Journal, Calvin had lived on Main Street in Wilton since 1948 and he explained that before Butch Weed moved into the house across the street from him, it was in disrepair. Butch got it fixed it up. The white cape had a big front porch with attractive pillars and a two car garage with a dormered roof. The house also served as Butch’s office for New Horizons Builders.
When you spend enough time and put down roots in your small Maine town, or any small town, you no doubt find yourself a “regular” at a local establishment. An Associated Press report in the Portland Press Herald noted that Butch was a regular at Mario’s of Wilton, a now closed pizza joint on Main Street in downton. Mario’s also served breakfast, and Butch was known to stop in every single day for coffee (decaf) and a chocolate glazed doughnut.
As reported by Lisa Chmelecki, on the morning of December 23, 2003, perhaps after his routine coffee and doughnut, Butch talked to his sister Donna on the phone. Butch was crazy about his nieces and nephews, including Donna’s 16-year old, and he couldn’t wait for the kids to see all the gifts he got them for Christmas.
Donna smiled on the other end of the line at her brother’s excitement and then reminded Butchy, as she called him, to drop off doughnuts for their mother on Christmas morning. It would be the first Christmas since their father passed away, and it would be tough on all of them. Of course, Butch assured his sister. He’d be at mom’s house by 9 on Christmas Day.
On the night of December 23, 2003, Butch returned to Mario’s at the end of his work day to catch up with some friends. Everything seemed normal according to Tami Greene, who often waited on Butch at Mario’s. There was nothing alarming or unusual about his mood. Butch left the pizzeria by 5 p.m.
His house was less than a quarter-mile away from Mario’s down Main Street. Police estimated that Butch arrived home sometime after 5 p.m. Less than three hours later, Butch Weed was dead.
Discovery and Early Investigation
Two of Butch Weed’s friends pulled into the driveway of his white Cape style home and gathered up the gifts they’d brought over for the holiday. It was just about 7:30 on December 23, 2003, and it was dark on Main Street.
The two friends stepped inside, gifts tucked under their arms, expecting Butch to greet them with a smile and a warm hello, or at least find him at his desk poring over some paperwork before he clocked out for the evening. But Butch didn’t meet them at the door. Instead, the friends were the first to see the terrible scene inside Butch Weed’s home.
According to Samanta C. DePoy’s reporting for the Lewiston Sun-Journal, the friends immediately called 9-1-1 and local authorities from Wilton were first to respond to the scene. As is procedure, those first responders checked for signs of life but found none, and then checked the scene to make sure nobody else was hurt and that an assailant wasn’t still in the house. After securing the house, they went back outside and waited for Maine State Police.
Maine State Police arrived shortly after, and as is procedure in all Maine cities and towns except Portland and Bangor, the State authorities led the investigation in Wilton with Sergeant Walter Grzyb at the helm.
Despite the holiday, officials were at the scene getting it processed and collecting evidence before the sun rose on Christmas Eve morning. Butch Weed’s body was transported to Augusta for an autopsy, expected to be completed the same day.
Maine State Police were tight lipped about what they were learning as the investigation began in full force. Initial reports state that police believed Butch Weed was killed sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., after he left Mario’s and before friends discovered his body on the floor near the entrance of his office. But officials weren’t saying how Butch died, and State Police asked the medical examiner’s officer to withhold the details of his cause of death from the public.
Something about how Butch died seemed to be a crucial piece of information, and investigators didn’t want to take any chances by revealing his cause of death and potentially foiling their efforts to track down a suspect. However, State Police Spokesman Steve McCausland did tell Sun-Journal writer Samantha C. DePoy,, “It is obvious to us this is an apparent homicide.”
The first 24 to 48 hours of a homicide investigation are critical, however, Steve McCausland told the Sun-Journal that investigators returned home on Christmas Eve to be with their families, something Butch Weed would never get to do. He reassured the public that the efforts were ongoing though, saying on December 26th, “A half-dozen investigators were back in Wilton late this morning and are still at it.”
Developing a victim profile of Butch Weed and retracing his steps on December 23 was crucial to starting the investigation off on the right foot, so detectives focused primarily on interviews. Police canvassed the neighborhood in the following days, hoping to find a neighbor or a passerby who’d seen something important and they were just waiting to be asked about it.
Butch’s house was right on Main Street, completely visible from the road, and it was typically a busy street during after work hours. Though it was late December and definitely dusky if not totally dark by 5:30 p.m. on the night of his murder, maybe someone saw headlights from an unknown car in the driveway, or heard an altercation coming from Butch’s house.
Though Butch was reportedly well-liked and a bit of a local celebrity, maybe family or friends could speak to the pieces of Butch’s life that weren’t so well-known and point the investigation to a possible suspect. All of Butch’s employees were expected to be questioned, along with anyone who saw him the day and night before he was killed, as well as his family members.
Six days into the investigation, State Police expanded their interview pool, setting up a roadblock in front of Butch’s home on Main Street. They stopped drivers between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. to ask if they’d passed through that area the previous week on the night of December 23.
Detective Jeffrey Smith of the Maine State Police Criminal Investigation Division explained the strategy behind a roadblock to Betty Jespersen of the Morning Sentinel, saying, “People are creatures of habit. Many drive down this street on their way home every day and it is possible someone saw something.”
Nearly a week after his body was discovered, State Police had interviewed nearly 100 people – friends, employees, neighbors, clients, family, and beyond – but they had no new developments to share. Butch Weed’s family began making funeral arrangements for their brother and son.
Butch Weed was laid to rest on New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t at all how his family planned to welcome the new year, with the loss of a second immediate family member within the same 12 months.
The heartbreak was made heavier for the family knowing that whoever did this to Butch was still out there. A week later and still no arrests, not even a sign that the investigation was closing in on any suspects or persons of interest. But State Police spokesperson Steve McCausland assured the Weed family and the public, “We’ll be there as long as it takes to resolve this.”
New Information: Cause of Death
Wilton, Maine is a small town. Just over 4100 people lived there in the early 2000s, and Raymond “Butch” Weed was easily one of the most well-known members of that population, so when he turned up murdered in his own home on the night before Christmas Eve in 2003, people started talking.
Maine State Police stayed quiet as the investigation carried on into the new year, revealing little beyond the date, timeframe, and manner of death in Butch’s case. But as people in town kept talking, and the rumors got louder, officials decided it was time to confirm at least one of the rumors. According to the Lewiston Sun-Journal, Steve McCausland announced on January 6, 2004, “We can confirm that this was a shooting death.”
Police didn’t follow it up with any other details. They wouldn’t speak to whether they suspected a random stranger or if the killer knew Butch. If the shooter was someone in town, that person could still be out there, and the town was understandably nervous. The only antidote for their fears was apparently more chatter, more rumors.
The conversation at Butch’s very own hangout fed into the speculation about what happened to him. An employee at Mario’s of Wilton told Lisa Chmelecki, “People just think that he made somebody mad, real mad,” the employee continued, “I’ve even heard it was a professional hit.” But it was only speculation.
Around the same time that police revealed Butch had, in fact, been shot, just as the rumors said, a dive team was reportedly searching a body of water nearby Butch’s home. Samantha DePoy reported that State Police wouldn’t say which body of water, but several were located near Butch’s house, including Wilson Stream and Wilson Pond, often called Wilson Lake.
Months passed. If anything came of the waterway search, again, Maine State Police were holding that information close to their vests. Three months later, Butch Weed’s killing was still unsolved. Police revealed no suspect, no motive, no murder weapon, and unlike the rampant rumor mill, it seemed on the outside of things that activity in the case was slowing down.
In March of 2004, State Police Sergeant Walter Gryzb spoke to the Sun-Journal, sharing why the case had proved to be a difficult one to investigate, “This has been, and continues to be, a tough case, in part because there are so many motives. But no one motive is coming to the surface.”
In an interview with the Sun-Journal in 2004, Rachel theorized that robbery could’ve been the motive for his murder. She disclosed that Butch’s house had less cash in it than they would’ve expected him to keep there. Meanwhile, Sgt. Gryzb acknowledged that it was possible someone shot Butch during the commission of a robbery, but said that other motives are just as viable, too.
Butch’s friend and fellow member of the Lions Club, Bernal Allen told the Sun-Journal, “We all hope they find out who did it. We’ve all heard lots of rumors, but nothing concrete. We sure are going to miss him. It’s a very sad thing.”
Episode Source Material
- Wilton man’s killing investigated, Associated Press/Portland Press Herald, 25 Dec 2003
- Wilton homicide probed by Larry Grard, Morning Sentinel, 26 Dec 2003
- Killing shakes Wilton by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 26 Dec 2003, page 2
- Police interview dozens in probe of Wilton slaying by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 27 Dec 2003, page 2
- Roadblock used in probe by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 30 Dec 2003, page 2
- Motorists questioned in Wilton murder probe by Betty Jespersen, Morning Sentinel, 30 Dec 2003
- Through the eyes of his brother by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 01 Jan 2004, page 2
- Weed was shot to death by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 07 Jan 2004
- Homicide in a small town by Lisa Chmelecki, Sun-Journal, 25 Jan 2004, page 2
- A family torn apart by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 27 Mar 2004, page 2
- Police still search for clues in Weed case by Samantha C. DePoy, Sun-Journal, 14 Apr 2004
- No suspect in Wilton murder investigation by Betty Jespersen, Morning Sentinel, 04 May 2004
- Leads in Wilton killing fail to help break case by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 14 May 2004
- Family steps up search for killer by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 17 Jun 2004, page 2
- Reward brings leads in Wilton murder case by Betty Jespersen, Morning Sentinel, 24 Jun 2004, page 2
- Police pursue new leads in ‘Butch’ Weed homicide by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 31 Jul 2004
- Evidence in Weed death searched for by dive team by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 23 Nov 2004
- Weed family hopes killing will be solved by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 15 Dec 2004
- Family increases reward in murder of Wilton man, Associated Press/Portland Press Herald, 16 Dec 2004
- Friends, relatives pay tribute to Weed by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 24 Dec 2004, page 2
- After reward raised, calls, e-mails come in by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 29 Dec 2004
- Wilton chief pledges support by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 11 Feb 2005
- Gallant moves to fix problems by Jodi Hausen, Sun-Journal, 24 Mar 2005
- Wilton Lions present scholarships, Sun-Journal, 22 Jul 2005
- Wilton murder remains mystery by Joel Elliott, Morning Sentinel, 26 Apr 2007, page 2
- Police still seek clues in slaying by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 21 Dec 2008, page 2
- Vigil remembers victims of violence by Ann Bryant, Sun-Journal, 30 Sep 2009, page 2
- Christmas memories: A beloved brother, Sun-Journal, 22 Dec 2010
- Wilton chief talks with residents by Ann Bryant, Sun-Journal, 30 Nov 2012, page 2
- The Butch Weed Killing by Donna Perry, Sun-Journal, 15 Dec 2013, page 2
- Vigil postponed due to weather by Ann Bryant, Sun-Journal, 24 Dec 2013
- Vigil to take place tonight, Sun-Journal, 31 Dec 2013
- Butch Weed remembered at vigil by Ann Bryant, Sun-Journal, 01 Jan 2014, page 2
- Weed family still waiting for answers in Butch’s murder by Donna M. Perry, Sun-Journal, 23 Dec 2018
- Obituary for Raymond E. Butch Weed
- Maine State Police Unsolved Homicides: Weed, Raymond “Butch”
- Find a Grave: Raymond Edward “Butch” Weed