ENID, Okla. — On June 29, 2009, then-42-year-old Enid resident Keith Butricks left a bar on South Van Buren at around 10:30 p.m.
He was never seen again.
Butricks’ case is one of the two unsolved missing persons cases being investigated by the Enid Police Department. His case has remained open for the past decade, although there has been no new information in “several years,” EPD detective Robin Bench said.
The evening Butricks went missing, his father said he’d fought with his mother over finances. She was his financial caretaker due to his limited mental capacity, Bench said.
Patrons of the 1421 Lounge on the 1400 block of South Van Buren said Butricks got intoxicated and brought a bottle of vodka inside, Bench said. The lounge was a beer bar only — no other alcohol was allowed, so the manager told him to leave.
Without a car, Butricks left the bar southbound on foot that evening, Bench said. Robert Muegge, a good friend of Butricks’, told Bench he spoke with Keith on the phone the evening of his disappearance. Butricks was supposed to meet Muegge at his house that night for dinner, but never showed.
Once the disappearance went public, a couple of possible Butricks sightings were reported that turned out to be false leads, Bench said. In 2010, the department reached out to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a “national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States,” according to their website. Butricks has a profile on the site, which lists details about his case and his physical description to share with law enforcement, medical examiners and the family to assist in the search for him.
The department alerted the case to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, which sent EPD a kit to generate a genetic profile from Butricks’ parents' DNA, Bench said. Over the years, the profile has gotten “several hits” from discoveries nationwide, but they never turned out to be Butricks.
“Through further investigation of size and weights and the decomposition of the bodies has determined, through the medical examiners and the coroners from different states, that it wasn’t Keith,” Bench said. “That’s pretty much where we’re at right now; it’s been that way for a couple years, we have no new information.”
‘Keeping their cases alive’
EPD coordinated with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation this year on getting Butricks’ case into the new edition of inmate playing cards. The cards feature a photo of a cold case victim, such as an unsolved homicide or disappearance, and are distributed to prisons across the state. The cards also list a phone number and email for tips.
“The idea is that someone may see a face on the card, or recognize the name, and maybe they have had a cellmate who have talked about that case, or maybe they know somebody on the outside who may have been involved in that case,” said Brook Arbeitman, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation public information officer. “Then they would be able to get that information to us for us to follow up on.”
The playing cards — the result of a partnership between the OSBI, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office and NamUs — began in 2017, Arbeitman said. The first deck of cards were all OSBI cold cases. The second deck, released in January, was opened up to law enforcement statewide until they collected 52 names.
The amount of tips OSBI got from the first deck is difficult to count, since individual leads go to the assigned case agent, acting OSBI Public Information Officer Captain Steve Tanner said. The second deck will be harder to quantify since they are not all cases where OSBI is the primary investigating agency, Arbeitman said. The cases from the second deck are from departments across the state, so people can call their local police department or county sheriff’s office with tips related to the case, and those investigators do not have to report back to the bureau with tips.
To the OSBI’s knowledge, neither of the decks have led to the closing of a cold case yet, Arbeitman said. However, OSBI did not have a dedicated cold case unit until last October. Now there are two agents and a criminalist who solely work on cold cases.
“Having people dedicated to it is a really important step in hopefully finding people and solving crimes,” Arbeitman said. “None of our cases have been solved yet, but we believe it’s working.”
When cases like Butricks’ go cold for years without new information, the possibility of solving them is really dependent on each unique case with multiple variables and circumstances, Arbeitman said.
“Whether it’s the local law enforcement, or definitely on behalf of the OSBI, we’re trying everything every day to solve these cases — they’re very important to us,” Arbeitman said. “That’s where you reach for tools like the cold case playing cards, or keeping their cases alive.”
Arbeitman often shares the cold case playing cards on social media to keep up community engagement. She said rewards for information can often help jog the memory of people involved who may now be more willing to tip off law enforcement. However, since each case is different, some avenues that worked for one case may not work for another.
“It’s hard to say why one’s not solved and why another is,” Arbeitman said.
Butricks’ case has now gone unsolved for 10 years, but anyone with information leading to the arrest or prosecution of this or any crime can report an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at (580) 233-6233, www.enid.org/departments/police or text to 274637, typing “Enid” and a message in the text box. Butricks' current age would be 52, according to NamUs.Those submitting a tip could earn a reward up to $1,000 and will not be required to testify nor be identified.