Candidate’s Ex-Wife Kills Son, Self : Floridian in Atty. Gen. Race Stunned, Goes Into Seclusion

From Times Wire Services

The bodies of the former wife and only son of the Democratic candidate for state attorney general were found 12 hours before the polls opened today, and police said the woman killed the boy and herself.

Saundra Butterworth, 43, ex-wife of candidate Bob Butterworth, called police in what they described as a hysterical state from a telephone booth on a downtown street Monday evening.

When officers arrived after tracing the call, they found the body of 16-year-old Robert Butterworth Jr. lying in a car, his mother a few feet away sprawled on the sidewalk with a .38-caliber revolver beside her.

The shirtless teen-ager had been shot three times in the chest and once in the neck. His mother had one gunshot wound in the head.


A letter was found in the car “indicating she had intent” to kill herself and to take her son with her, police spokeswoman Cori Zywotow said today.

“We’ve been told she has been suffering some emotional problems,” Zywotow said.

Candidate in Seclusion

Butterworth, 43, remarried after the couple’s 1976 divorce, and the boy had been living with his father and stepmother, Marta Prado, in Hollywood, north of Miami. Mrs. Butterworth picked her son up at school Monday afternoon.


Butterworth was informed of the murder-suicide when he returned from an election-eve rally Monday night, campaign manager Ron Villella said. He said that Butterworth is “in shock,” that he would be in seclusion today and that all election night activities are canceled.

“Bobby had suffered serious medical problems as a child but was leading a full and active life at the time of his death and had worked very hard in his father’s campaign,” Villella said.

The teen-ager grew up in a sterile environment protected from dust, chemicals and many foods that might cause reactions.

His parents lost a 1979 medical malpractice suit seeking $1.47 million from three physicians for allegedly giving their son penicillin when they knew he was allergic to it and causing him to contract an often fatal disease.

Butterworth, a former Broward County sheriff, former Circuit Court judge and former chief of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, is heavily favored to win the attorney general post today over Republican state Rep. Jim Watt.