Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 29, 2011

Strangled W.Va. woman was pregnant, autopsy reveals

Victim, 29, reportedly killed then placed in Hampshire County cabin

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — A former Strasburg, Va., woman who was found dead recently in an abandoned cabin in Hampshire County after being allegedly killed by her boyfriend was pregnant at the time of her death, according to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.

An autopsy by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office determined Kelly Elizabeth Butler, 29, died as the result of strangulation.

The age of the fetus was not disclosed by the medical examiner’s office. Investigators believe the victim had been pregnant for about three months, according to Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh.

Police said Butler was strangled to death by James T. Zell, 23, who reportedly has admitted to killing Butler.

Zell was arrested in a traffic stop recently in Franklin County, Pa., where he remains jailed, pending extradition to West Virginia.

He was reportedly talking about the matter in Shenandoah County, Va., where a deputy then contacted the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. Zell was interviewed Dec. 22 by Morgan County officers at a residence in the Tri Lake Park trailer court in southern Morgan County where Zell had recently resided with Butler.

Zell reportedly told police he and Butler returned home from a bar before they got into an altercation. He reportedly loaded Butler’s body in a vehicle and drove to a run-down cabin in an area of Hampshire County where he put the body in a loft. Butler’s body was found Dec. 23 and police believe she may have been dead since Dec. 8.

The investigation included the assistance of the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office.

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