Man denies killing woman, 81, in Norman Rockwell’s tiny town

This booking photo released by the Vermont State Police shows Timothy Butler, of Sunderland, Vt., arrested Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in the murder of Helen Jones, 81, who was found stabbed to death in her Arlington, Vt., home on Jan. 4. (Vermont State Police via AP)

ARLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A man accused of stabbing an elderly woman to death in a bucolic community that was once home to Norman Rockwell has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Timothy Butler was arrested Wednesday and was charged with killing 81-year-old Helen Jones in her Arlington home in early January. He also was charged with burglary in an occupied dwelling with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Butler, who’s from neighboring Sunderland, was being held without bail Thursday.

Court documents say Butler was interviewed by police days after Jones’ death when police got a tip that he did yard work for Jones for a couple of years. Police received two tips from people who said Butler confessed to killing an elderly woman.

WCAX-TV reported that on Sunday detectives obtained audio recordings of Butler saying that while at Jones’ house he “got scared and one thing led to another.”

Butler was arrested without incident Wednesday afternoon at a park in Arlington.

Rockwell, one of America’s most beloved artists, lived in Arlington, a tiny community in the southwestern part of the state, from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. He used local residents as models in some of his work, reflecting small-town life.

The killing of Jones shocked residents, who felt it was related to a series of burglaries in the community around the same time. Police now say they found evidence of a forced entry into Jones’ home.

After Jones’ death police told Arlington residents to keep safe by leaving house lights on, leaving cars in driveways and installing motion sensors.

Police searched Butler’s home after his arrest.

A neighbor, Harry Gordon, said he has known Butler for years and was surprised by the allegations.

“We grew up in the same town, went to the same school,” he said. “It’s just hard to believe.”

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