Law: Suspect in child stabbing can be held up to 6 months

A woman arrested last week on suspicion of killing her 6-year-old daughter could be held for months without criminal charge under the Cayman Islands Mental Health Law.

Tamara Butler, 37, has been in the hospital under police guard since Oct. 27 after her daughter, Bethany, was found dead in the passenger seat of a vehicle parked in the bush off the Queens Highway, near Barefoot Beach on Grand Cayman. Ms. Butler was arrested a short distance away.

A pathologist’s examination on Oct. 31 confirmed that Bethany suffered multiple stab wounds.

According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Ms. Butler was admitted to the hospital as a patient under the Cayman Islands Mental Health Law for “a period of observation … to assess her condition and suitability for interview by officers conducting this investigation.”

Ms. Butler remained in hospital as of Wednesday, without charge and under police guard, according to RCIPS Superintendent Adrian Seales.

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Section 5 of the mental health law states: “Where it appears to any [police] constable that any person is, by reason of mental disorder, an immediate danger, or is likely to become a danger to himself of others, [the constable] may take such person into protective custody ….”

The law states that a person in such a situation will be examined by the chief medical officer at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and may be held up to 48 hours so that they may be examined by the officer and at least one other physician.

If the patient is determined to be in need of further treatment, the chief medical officer can order the person to be detained for a period of not more than six months. At any time during that period, the chief medical officer can authorize the prisoner’s release from the hospital with the assent of the health minister.

Mr. Seales declined to speculate on how long the suspect in Bethany’s killing would be held at hospital.

In the meantime, local police continued their investigation into the child’s death.

They have issued a public notice asking anyone who was in the vicinity of Hirst Road in Newlands, Shamrock Road between Newlands and East End, High Rock Road or Queens Highway between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday, Oct. 27, and who might have seen a tan-colored Hyundai Tuscon, to contact officers. “Although very early in the morning, it is not uncommon for shift workers or other[s] to be out exercising on the road at this time,” Mr. Seales said.

“This line of enquiry would [help] the investigation piece together the last movements of this vehicle suspected of being driven by Tamara Butler.”

Mr. Seales said the RCIPS could not confirm whether Bethany had been killed at a house in the Newlands area, where she was staying with her mother, prior to being placed in the front seat of the SUV, where her body was found.

Bethany’s father Lenford Butler, an RCIPS police sergeant, was at work Sunday night into Monday morning when the killing occurred. He has not returned any communications seeking comment on the matter.

Funeral service

The funeral service for Bethany Butler will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Kings Seventh-day Adventist Church on Walkers Road. A viewing will be held between noon and 12:45 p.m. Interment will follow at the new Bodden Town Cemetery on Bodden Town Road.

Sgt. Butler has given his permission for the funeral arrangements to be made public.

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  1. Sgt. Butler and all other family, I know there is no way one can feel your pain at this moment. Remember your continued faith in God is the only strength you can lean on. Your church family and friends continue to pray for your strength and guidance and wellness for Tamara.