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New Hampshire family of missing couple waits for answers

Posted: 6:07 PM, Oct 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-30 00:49:28-04
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Within 24 hours, the Kleberg County Sheriff's Office discovered the decomposed human remains of a female and male at Padre Balli Park.
Now the question on hand, is if they are related to the missing persons case involving a New Hampshire couple who were last seen camping in the same area.
While officials remain hesitant to connect the two cases, on Tuesday the missing couple's family said hearing the latest developments leaves them with little hope.
An emotional Deborah van Loon -- sister of missing James Butler -- said she wants to remain hopeful, but at this point it's difficult.
"It's right where they were parked," van Loon said. "If it isn't them it's one major coincidence that's for sure."
Right now officials with the Kleberg County Sheriff's Office said the two decomposed bodies -- which were partially clothed -- have been transported to the Nueces County Medical Examiners Office. Autopsies have been ordered.
Van Loon said they sent pictures of James Butler's dental films to the medical examiners Tuesday afternoon.
"We're doing this at a very slow, methodical pace so we don't miss anything," Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick said.
Van Loon said she last spoke to her brother on Oct. 16.
"That is when he called me to ask me to show his house to someone on the 22nd," she said.
The missing persons report for James and Michelle Butler was filed on Oct. 23.
She said after her family began asking each other about his whereabouts they became worried.
"Between all of us when we started asking each other if we've heard from them and nobody could get a hold of them, we all started getting really, really nervous,' van Loon said.
Despite scouring 80 miles of coastline officials initially came up empty handed, until they discovered the human remains Sunday afternoon behind a sand dune that appeared to be dug up by wildlife.
"We're not jumping to conclusions," Kleberg County Chief Deputy Jaime Garza said. "We're just trying to conduct an investigation in a timely matter, you know, that's going to be fair to everybody."
Van Loon said the couple has been traveling in their RV since June of 2018 taking part time jobs across the country. She said her brother -- who is a Navy veteran -- was not familiar with the Texas coastline.
"They had found out that you can park for free on the beach for two weeks and then you have to move your vehicle every couple weeks," she said. "And they were planning on just moving along the coastline of Texas towards Florida."
Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick confirmed that the couple's truck and RV was seen crossing the U.S./Mexico border between Oct. 20-21.
Van Loon said officials didn't give her a description of what the driver looked like, but verified that it wasn't her brother.
The Butler's family members are currently in Rumney, New Hampshire and Virginia Beach.
They are waiting for officials to positively identify the remains. The family said right now they can't afford to come to Corpus Christi as the investigation continues. They have started a GoFundMe Page in the event they need to make a trip -- which right now flights are a little less than $1,000 roundtrip per person. The GoFundMe Page says, "If they decide not to go, the campaign will be withdrawn and refunds will be made."
If you would like to contribute to their GoFundMe account you can CLICK HERE