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Suspect charged in family slayings

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WICHITA, Kan. -- A man charged Monday with three counts of first-degree murder claims he has no memory of his whereabouts the day he is accused of killing three members of a family, authorities said.

William T. Butterworth, 33, was arrested Sunday in Stuart, Fla., about 130 miles north of Miami, while standing next to the Wichita family's automobile with the car keys in his pocket.

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Butterworth, who was talking on a pay telephone to his wife, Shelly, in Wichita at the time of his arrest, was being held in Florida on $500,000 bond.

Sedgwick County prosecutors Monday charged him with theft and murder in the slayings of Phillip Fager, 37, and his two daughters, Kelli, 16, and Sherri, 9. Their bodies were found Thursday by Fager's wife, Mary, when she returned home after visiting relatives for two days in Emporia.

Butterworth was interviewed for four hours Monday, but denied any knowledge of where he was the day the slayings occurred, Wichita Police Lt. David Williams said at a news conference in Stuart.

'Obviously, he has the victim's car, number one,' Williams said. 'Number two, we knew that he was supposed to be in the house the day the murders were committed. He was doing some remodeling work at the house.

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'He was reported missing since the same day the murders occurred. We recovered his vehicle in Wichita in close proximity to where the murders occurred,' Williams said.

Butterworth had been hired to install a solarium at the Fager home in an affluent neighborhood, and had been given keys to the residence so he could work when the family was away, Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon said.

The Fagers' 1983 Volkswagen was parked beside Butterworth when he was arrested and the keys to the vehicle were in his pocket, LaMunyon said.

Shelly Butterworth reported her husband missing Thursday, the same day the slayings were discovered.

When Butterworth called home Sunday, another relative contacted Wichita police to tell them he was on the phone with his wife. The call was traced to the pay phone in Florida. Wichita police contacted Florida authorities and they quickly arrested Butterworth, LaMunyon said.

The bodies of Sherri and Kelli Fager were found in a newly installed hot tub in the solarium. Kelli, who was nude, was drowned. Police were investigating the possibility she was sexually assaulted, LaMunyon said.

Sherri was found with her hands bound behind her back with black electrical tape. She had been strangled with an electrical cord and also drowned, LaMunyon said.

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Phillip Fager was shot twice in the back. All three were believed to have been killed Wednesday but LaMunyon said the sequence of events leading to their deaths was not yet known.

Butterworth's service van was found Friday parked about seven blocks from the Fager residence at a fast-food restaurant where Kelli worked, authorities said.

Butterworth and his wife have three children and have lived in Wichita for about 10 years. He has no known police record or history of mental illness.

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