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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news May 26, 2016

1/1/2013 1:14:00 PM
A Look Back at 2012: Arsonist fire-bombs hospital helicopter
Angel-3 exploded in flames at 2:25 a.m. May 25 when a 26-year-old Cottonwood man, reportedly living as a transient in a wash, approached the craft with a beer bottle filled with gasoline setting the exterior and cockpit ablaze. VVN/Jon Hutchinson
Angel-3 exploded in flames at 2:25 a.m. May 25 when a 26-year-old Cottonwood man, reportedly living as a transient in a wash, approached the craft with a beer bottle filled with gasoline setting the exterior and cockpit ablaze. VVN/Jon Hutchinson

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- One of the most unexpected criminal acts of 2012 was the fire-bombing of the Guardian medical helicopter assigned to the Verde Valley Medical Center.

Angel-3 exploded in flames at 2:25 a.m. May 25 when a 26-year-old Cottonwood man, reportedly living as a transient in a wash, approached the craft with a beer bottle filled with gasoline setting the exterior and cockpit ablaze.

Richard Thomas Butts Jr. was restrained by hospital personnel and the fire was extinguished. Still, the damage was great enough that the chopper was eventually trucked to Louisiana for repairs and has now been returned to service at substantial cost, the interior refitted and re-certified. Butts has been found to be competent to stand trial. His case is plodding through the courts, but an out of court settlement is rumored possible when attorneys meet in court in early January.

A 2012 alleged murder case, now in the courts, involves a Cottonwood woman and her estranged husband. Jamie Treakle Montiel, 23, had bonded out of jail after being arrested for failing to pay misdemeanor offense fines in Justice Court, but she then vanished.

Treakle reportedly failed to reach her boyfriend for a ride from the jail and is thought to have called her abusive husband Joseph Montiel, himself out on bond after assaulting Treakle with a pool cue.

Court records show the woman's body was eventually found near an old mine shaft off Cherry Creek Road. The Medical Examiner says she was stabbed to death.

Joseph Montiel's truck was found abandoned nearby and set authorities on the trail to the body.

Former minister Jim Schwartz was found dead months after a lengthy search and speculation on what happened to the hiker and Village of Oak Creek resident. At one point Sheriff's investigators speculated he had left home and his wife and numerous reports spotted him across northern Arizona.

That was never the case. Schwartz had certainly left a note with possible signs of a depressed state that day in October, but had left for a hike and apparently run into trouble.

In April, even though the official search had long ended, friends refused to give up and Don Newton conducted another search into remote Woods Canyon east of the Village between Good Friday and Easter and found a body, identified by his wedding ring as Schwartz.

The cause of his death remains unknown.

A Massachusetts college student was also found dead in the wild in April. Twenty-one-year-old Jessica Ronhock was found 25 miles south of Flagstaff. It's believed that her Jeep drove off the Interstate and plunged 400-feet.

Her credit card was last used in Kayenta on the reservation in January. A statewide search continued for Ronhock until hunters found the wreckage north of Sedona in April.

As track and field events were getting underway at the Summer Olympics in London this past year, a former Colorado distance runner was killed in Sedona along with his son and the boy's friend.

Pat Porter represented the US during Olympics in Los Angeles and Seoul in 84 and 88. Porter's private plane crashed during takeoff from the Sedona airport.

No murder charges were forthcoming after young Jake Palmer was stabbed during a fight with another 19-year-old in Verde Village. The pair had "bad blood" over the same girl and came to blows at the intersection of Pipe Creek and Grand View Drives. After being punched, Mason Anderson pulled a knife and stabbed Palmer who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The case proved to be one of self defense.

A 33-year-old teacher at American Heritage Academy, Randy Young, was terminated for a suspected inappropriate relationship with a young student but then was investigated for having child pornography on his personal computer that he had left at the school.

But the charges were dropped by the judge. The judge agreed with the defense argument that the teacher had a right to his privacy that was violated by the school during the investigation.

When school officials found Young's personal computer left behind in his classroom, they opened it and showed pornography to Sheriff's deputies.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013
Article comment by: Anna B

@ What I'd Like To See Done With Mr. Butts:
THANK YOU. I agree completely. Since this whole thing happened almost a year ago, people of the community have been speaking out against him in a total rage and saying some pretty hurtful things. WHICH, FYI TO THOSE PEOPLE: HE DOESN'T SEE THAT, HIS FAMILY DOES. Let's rub some salt into those wounds, shall we?
There have been very few that have spoken out with a sense of compassion for him and I wanted to let you know, we appreciate it. Of course what he did was absolutely unacceptable and he needs to be, is, and will continue to be held accountable for it. But does he really need to be hanged for it? No. And thank you for suggesting an alternative. FINALLY.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: What I'd like to see done with Mr. Butts

Is treatment for his alcohol problems, mandatory mental health services and treatment, and perhaps a 1/2 way house where he can learn lessons crucial to being a good citizen, and relevant job skills.

But what the heck am I thinking???? We live in America, where the mentally ill are thrown in jail, where they don't receive the needed psych treatment. And guess what? Once released, the majority of them end up back in jail. We need so many prisons that now the private sector is making money incarcerating inmates.

Some of the citizens, like Mr. Butts, need help with organization his life. But no $$$ available. How able diverting some of money from the prison system and shift it to mental health services and social service programs to prevent crime. The shutting the barn doors after the horse got out system we have now isn't working. The idea of promoting the general welfare must not apply anymore anymore in America.

Should Mr. Butts be held accountable for his actions? Yes, he definitely should. But think about offering him help too, for the problems that got him into trouble in the first place.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: Anna B

For your information, Mr. Butts has been in jail serving time for this crime since May. It's not like he's been out walking around a free man. And the repercussions of his tremendous mistake will absolutely out reach those that may or may not be legally enforced. Perhaps you could focus your attentions to issues that actually concern you such as gun control or the dog park or whatever other hot button topic seems to get everyone's knickers in a bunch this week.

To What's Going On:
I completely agree. And for my family, may I add that the last thing WE want to see is Mr. Butts picture along side that of Montiel as if they belong in the same category. Way to continue to mislead the community into believing Butts is some kind of heinous criminal we should all come after with pitch forks and torches. Happy New Year, Verde Independent. I can see we can expect the same from you as last year and every year before. Way to evolve.

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013
Article comment by: @ John

Really john are you that hard up for news you have to open up old wounds. Well hopefully you can keep your job considering the indepent has way better reporters that can spell and write.

Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Article comment by: You should have mentioned 2 more things...

The death of the two visitors at the turnout off 89a and that the world did not end on 12/21/12.

Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Article comment by: What's Going on?

Dear verde news, can't we start our new year by remembering some of the good times? Last thing we want to see is a picture of the guy who murdered my friends daughter on the front of your website as our last memory's of 2012
Show some class
Is this to much to ask?

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Kersey

OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT????? What in God's name is wrong with the panty-waist prosecuters?

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