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Friends Of Victims In Highlands High School Attack Attend Defendant's Arraignment

Denise Gore (left) Vicki Butler (middle) and Lindsey Raush (right), friends of the two elderly women attacked last week, attended the defendant's arraignment Monday in Sacramento.

 

Friends of two elderly women attacked last week at Highlands High in Sacramento attended the defendant's arraignment Monday. 

The focus of two of the victims' friends was to show support for them, rather than to seek retribution against Neven Glen Butler. He's 18 and charged with one count of murder with a special circumstance of attempted rape and five counts of assault.

Investigators believe Butler attacked a 61-year-old woman Wednesday morning on the Highlands High track and killed her friend, Fusako Petrus, when she tried to intervene.

Denise Gore says Fusako was 86 and had seen everyone in the neighborhood grow up.

"My dad passed away last June and I remember me and my other siblings, we look back and we were like, "There's Fusako!" So, she saw me bury my mom, my dad and the running joke on the whole street was she was gonna outlive everybody...and she would have too."

Twin Rivers School District says Butler dropped out of school in December. His defense attorney says his mental health will be part of the court proceedings.

Gore says kids in the neighborhood attended school with Butler.

"I'm just hearing from the other kids that knew him that he did have some anger issues and was just kind of strange. That's just what the kids were saying. 'He's quiet. Real quiet,' they said."

While friends are at a loss as to why the attacks happened, they are intent on trying to remember Fusako for the person she was.

Vickie Butler is not related to the defendant. She says her mother-in-law and Fusako were best friends.

"She was a quiet, simple, happy woman who enjoyed simple things in life. She enjoyed good food. She enjoyed good friends," says Butler. "When you come to this country and you leave another country and you leave your friends and your culture behind, so you need to establish your own family. She did a really good job of that. I mean, we should all be so lucky (to have) as many close friends and neighbors." 

Butler says the first woman attacked is slowly recovering.

"She's bruised. She's scared. And I am protecting her privacy."

The neighborhood plans to have a "take back the track" event to return access to the community. The track has been padlocked since the attack.

A memorial service for Fusako is planned for June 3.

The third victim in the case is 92 and was attacked on Northrup Avenue in Sacramento.

Neven Butler is scheduled to be in court again June 8.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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