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MYTON, Duchesne County — The City Council placed its new police chief on paid administrative leave Thursday night, two days after Duchesne County prosecutors charged him with five misdemeanors.
The decision was based on city policy, Myton Mayor Kathleen Cooper said.
"We want to be very cognizant of everyone involved (in this case)," Cooper said about the decision to place Chief Thomas Wade Butterfield on leave "pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegations against him."
Butterfield, 44, was charged Tuesday in 8th District Court with three counts of stalking and one count of criminal trespass, class A misdemeanors; and one count of unlawful detention, a class B misdemeanor.
On Thursday, Duchesne County sheriff's deputies also began investigating an apparent break-in attempt at the home of one of the women who has accused Butterfield of stalking her.
Someone tried to enter the home just after 3 a.m. Thursday, according to Duchesne County Sheriff's Lt. Jeremy Curry. The unknown intruder got the front door open, setting off an alarm inside the house, Curry said.
"Right now we don't have any suspects, and we are still investigating," the lieutenant said, adding that a witness reported seeing the shadow of a person running from the area and heard a man's voice.
There is no way we're going to continue without our police department, regardless of what happens in this case. We're not backtracking on this. The public is so happy they have someone they can call.
–Myton Mayor Kathleen Cooper
Neither police nor prosecutors have been willing to discuss the stalking allegations against Butterfield in detail. When contacted Friday, Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote would only say that "the pattern of activity extended to (the victims') homes."
Three women are identified as victims in the case, according to charging documents. Two of the them filed civil stalking injunctions Tuesday against Butterfield, which Curry confirmed were served on the police chief.
Cooper said Friday that she still had not received any information from the sheriff's office or from prosecutors about the case. The Myton City Council decided Thursday to hire someone to conduct an independent investigation, the mayor said.
The Myton Police Department was organized July 1 to serve the city's 500 to 600 residents. Butterfield is its only full-time employee. Sgt. Tim Mellor, a part-time employee, has been appointed to serve as acting chief while Butterfield is on leave. There are no plans to disband the department, Cooper said.
"There is no way we're going to continue without our police department, regardless of what happens in this case," the mayor said. "We're not backtracking on this. The public is so happy they have someone they can call."
Butterfield has denied any wrongdoing. He called the charges against him "absolutely unfounded." His first court appearance is set for Oct. 6. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: GeoffLiesik