Charges: Utah mom strangled children to make point to husband

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LAYTON — Criminal charges were filed Thursday against a Layton woman who police say claimed she was "making a point" and that her husband was making her do things she didn't want to do when she allegedly strangled her children.

Karen Suzanne Butterfield, 27, is charged in 2nd District Court with two counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and three class B misdemeanors of assault, criminal mischief and domestic violence in the presence of a child.

On Saturday, Butterfield was at home with her two daughters, ages 4 and 2, and infant son. Butterfield had been arguing with her husband who then began recording the argument with his cellphone to document Butterfield's behavior, according to charging documents.

The husband claimed that Butterfield stated "she was going to kill herself and her children," left the house to allegedly "jump off a cliff," then told her husband "she was coming home to get the girls and that he would never see them again," the charges state.

After she returned home, Butterfield told her 4-year-old to "grab the pillow" and follow her upstairs, according to the charges. She then put the pillow over her daughters' heads at separate times and attempted to smother them, investigators say.

The husband was able to get Butterfield to stop, but she then allegedly took the two girls into another bedroom and locked the door. The husband picked the lock and "saw the defendant with her hands around (the 4-year-old's) neck," the charges state.

When the husband was able to help the girl break free, Butterfield "then grabbed (the 2-year-old) by the neck and 'slammed' her onto the bed," the charges state. The husband told police he had to again "pry" Butterfield's hands off the girl.

Initial Coverage:

When Butterfield left the house, her husband locked the doors and called police. After she was arrested, she initially claimed "that she had 'blacked out' and was not sure what had happened." But later, in a written statement, Butterfield told police, "I was not in my right state of mind and regret what I did to my girls," the charges state.

"(Butterfield) stated that she did not want to hurt (her daughter), she was making a point that (her husband) was pushing her, making her do things that she did not want to do."

In March, Butterfield was convicted of disorderly conduct, a class B misdemeanor, after another domestic violence related incident. In that case, while arguing with her husband, she stabbed a refrigerator with a knife. She was sentenced to a year of probation, according to court records.


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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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