Details: How police found the South Park murder suspect

We have more details now directly from Seattle Police regarding how they found and arrested the South Park murder suspect tonight, within hours of publicly identifying him as 23-year-old Isaiah M.K. Kalebu and publicizing photos. The updated news release we just received says:

Preliminary reports indicate that a Metro Bus operator who had knowledge of the suspect description contacted the Seattle Police Communications Center with a possible suspect sighting at NE 65th Street and Sandpoint Way in North Seattle. This occurred at around 6:30 p.m. North Precinct patrol officers saturated the area and searched for the suspect. Officers located the suspect and his dog in Magnuson Park. The suspect surrendered to officers without incident. He is in custody and en route to Seattle Police Headquarters for questioning. He will ultimately be booked into King County Jail for Investigation of Murder. The suspect was with his pit bull at the time of apprehension. The dog has been released to the care of Seattle Animal Control.

These photos of the dog were also made public by police earlier:

It’s been less than a week since 39-year-old Teresa Butz was stabbed to death after a man – allegedly Kalebu – broke into her home where she and her partner were asleep and attacked them; Butz’s partner survived and is out of the hospital. Just last night, hundreds of friends and neighbors gathered for a candlelight memorial at South Park Community Center, close to Butz’s home. We do not yet know how police have tied Kalebu to the crime but we will be adding more information as we get it; we’ll be checking into court records and any other background, too. He may have West Seattle ties – commenter Cheriberri, in the comment section of our previous report, says he was a classmate at Denny Middle School in the mid-’90s. ADDED 8:47 PM: The system we use to get court documents is down for the weekend but the top-level state online records are available round the clock and we have found a King County case in which Kalebu was due in court earlier this week, on a case dating back to April, with charges listed as including domestic violence and harassment. (Update: Slog has details of that case – the victim was Kalebu’s mother.) That’s one of 13 court cases listed for him dating back as far as five years ago. There is also a Pierce County case filed this month in which a domestic-violence protection order was sought against him (by the aunt who died in this fire days later; at least one media source says Kalebu will be questioned again in that case). Most of the other cases against him listed in the top-level statewide court records were also from Pierce County. 12:22 AM UPDATE: Kalebu was booked into King County Jail at 10:35 pm. He’s being held for investigation of five potential charges, including murder and attempted murder.

32 Replies to "Details: How police found the South Park murder suspect"

  • Gingersnap July 24, 2009 (9:19 pm)

    I don’t think he resembles the police sketch that closely. I’m surprised the bus driver spotted him.

  • glad July 24, 2009 (9:28 pm)

    I bet the dog tipped off the bus driver from the media saturated video not the sketch. The sketch does have the nose and mouth right. I was also thinking the police know a lot more than we do as there is a survivor. But they had to hold a lot away from the public to try and find a suspect. I hope to hear a murder charge soon if this is him – then we can all rest a little easier.

  • WSB July 24, 2009 (9:31 pm)

    That’s what I have just read someplace else – the driver noticed the dog. Re: the other details, we’ll be watching for court documents, as will everyone else, since they’ll have to file within the first two days of next week.

  • sam July 24, 2009 (9:36 pm)

    I am so glad they caught him. But I’m sure the victims’ families are still aching like (*&

    (why does his photo need to be spread all over the front page of WSB (in 2 stories- 4 photos in all)? I feel sick to my stomach looking at this monster)

  • sam July 24, 2009 (9:37 pm)

    I meant to also say, now that he’s been caught, and we don’t need to know what he looks like.

  • WSB July 24, 2009 (9:38 pm)

    Sam, we usually would add new information to the same story but in this case so much changed between the “he’s identified and he’s filed” and “here’s how they caught him” that I decided to publish it as a separate story that would be very clear about where things stood (realizing that sometimes our chronological coverage does not give an accurate end picture of status). However, I am going to edit the photo down to a mug shot for the side, rather than the double pic, since he’s no longer being sought … TR

  • Gabby July 24, 2009 (9:47 pm)

    I expect there will be a press conference in the next day or so with more detail. Curious to hear how they connected the dots.

    Sigh. What a tragedy.

  • Penny July 24, 2009 (9:59 pm)

    I just recently quit my job, which was at the Radford Court Family Housing complex at 65th and Sand Point Way, and 6:30 is exactly the time I would’ve gotten off of work and been waiting for the bus there. This just hit way closer to home…

    I’m just so relieved they caught him, what a truly horrible thing to have happened. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

  • Gabby July 24, 2009 (10:10 pm)

    The PI story has info about two run-INS with the police this suspect had just in the past 2 days.

  • WSB July 24, 2009 (10:18 pm)

    Not Seattle police fwiw … one was something in Des Moines and the other had to do with the hearing in one of the aforementioned cases. Anyway, here’s their URL:

  • NancyDrew July 24, 2009 (10:23 pm)

    You know, I know I’m probably going to be ‘flamed’ in the worst way for saying this, but may I raise some issues?

    1) This became ‘Top Priority’, yet it seems that s**t like this happens in the Central area and Rainier Valley with a lot less fuss. Don’t get me wrong; this is horrible and should never have happened, but I can’t help but wonder if the fact this was a ‘black on white’ crime, and the victims were a nice, educated gay couple who do a lot of good for the community, that this got a lot more attention and police effort than the usual ‘black-on-black’ homicides in the CD and Rainier Valley?

    2) A lot of this case breaking has to do with great police work on the part of SPD & alert citizens, but I wonder if the fact that the ‘don’t snitch’ attitude in certain quarters of the black community keeps similar results from happening there?

    3) The early returns suggest this guy is a garden-variety nutjob, but I wonder if the possibility that this could’ve been a ‘hate crime’ helped put it on the front burner? Look, I love my gay friends, but if someone stabs me, I’d like to think that my case will be pursued with equal vigor, even if I’m a white/hetero. My hypothetical attacker clearly wasn’t fond of me, can’t I call that a ‘hate crime’ too? Equal justice under the law, OK? Gay or straight, if your attacked, the perp must pay big-time!

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m horrified it happened, my heart is breaking for this woman and her partner, and all the folks who’ve been touched by their lives; but I would like to see all cases pursued as excellently as this one was.

  • Jersey Jill July 24, 2009 (11:04 pm)

    Whew!! so glad this monster is caught and hopefully with be put away for a life. Thanks goodness for our selfless officers who give their heart and soul to the citizens of this community. I will pray tonight that they stay out of harms way as they keep us out of harms way with their lives. GOD Bless you SPD!! Now get out there and get those bad guys!!

  • toddinwestwood July 24, 2009 (11:09 pm)

    No Nancy, you are right. All cases that involve violence against another human-being deserve the same amount of footwork, vigor and detail that the SPD has put into this case.
    We may never know what motivated this person to do what he did.
    Our only hope for justice is that the police crossed the “T’s” and dotted the “i’s” on all the paperwork.

  • Pigeon Hill July 24, 2009 (11:19 pm)

    I agree with Nancy Drew up to a point: all cases should carry equal weight and urgency. I disagree on whether the black on white crime was the reason this case became so visible: it was the seemingly random nature and the distinct brutality. I would find it hard to believe that if a case this awful and this unmotivated occurred in the CD or Rainier Valley to a person of color that there would not be a similar response. At least I hope so, it is 2009. Good work SPD. Let’s hope it’s the right guy.

  • Jose July 24, 2009 (11:52 pm)

    I WANT to know what he looks like. Because if he gets out on bail, as he well might given how messed up our criminal justice system is, and he so much as steps foot in my yard he’s a dead man.

  • Mookie July 25, 2009 (12:15 am)

    I’m curious why he was transported to Harborview Medical Center a half hour ago. Maybe to get a refill on his meds. ( I’m gritting my teeth getting ready for the He Was Off His Meds defense.)

  • jester July 25, 2009 (2:32 am)

    Does it strike anyone as odd that this guy looks nothing like the police sketch? Or that initial reports stated that prints had been found at the crime scene but no matches could be found in the databases? I appreciate the fact that the police are working diligently to apprehend a suspect but it just seems really convenient to me. I know further details can’t be released yet, but I’ll feel safer when some physical proof or a positive ID by the surviving victim verify that the person arrested is indeed the killer.

  • Admiral Lady July 25, 2009 (3:40 am)

    What’s going to happen to the dog?

  • more July 25, 2009 (9:28 am)

    I never heard that they found prints in any of the articles. I am sure the facts will come out – although I feel like I am assuming its him so I can feel safer. We can’t really assume until he is charged and tried. He’s just a suspect now. I remember hearing the survivor (understandably) was hysterical – I am sure it was difficult to get a good sketch. The police wouldn’t go to all this trouble if they didn’t have a link. Because they risk a judge letting him go (as we saw in Tacoma). Hopefully it comes out soon.

  • WSB July 25, 2009 (9:31 am)

    The only time I heard anything about prints is when police were discussing the Morgan Junction break-in last week and saying prints from that one didn’t mention prints from South Park. But again, court documents will be out soon enough … TR

  • jester July 25, 2009 (9:46 am)

    Prints were mentioned in a local newscast in which the reporter very clearly stated that prints had been found but were not matched with any in the system. I believe it was KOMO 4. This information may have been wrong, but it was stated as fact.

  • jtm July 25, 2009 (10:02 am)

    I’m curious about the video and how that was linked to the crime. Regardless, I will rest easier now. Such a horrible tragedy. Good work SPD.

  • shorewoodslim July 25, 2009 (11:12 am)

    All Metro bus drivers were told to keep an eye out for a black man with a brown and white pit bull at around 6 p.m. yesterday.

  • a parent July 25, 2009 (1:12 pm)

    Thank you to the Metro Bus Driver and the SPD. We will all rest easier now.

  • James Sherwood July 25, 2009 (3:24 pm)

    Innocent until proven guilty, you’re all jumping to conclusions and racial profiling, DNA and fingerprints are evidence, not some persons description, eye witnesses are not trustworthy, forensic science on the other hand is…

  • Wesley July 25, 2009 (8:25 pm)

    Teresa is now buried in St. Louis after being brutally murdered a week ago. Since none of us is a juror in this case, we aren’t bound by any legal principle. Have a heart, man, we’re a community hurting and supporting each other. The first step in the justice system is catching the bad guy. As a member of this caring community I say thank you! It’s perfectly natural and fitting to be grateful at each step toward justice. I commend the police, the prosecutor, the Metro Bus Operator, and Teresa’s brave surviving partner (who is in a position to positively identify the perpetrator) for their dedicated and skilled work against evil. May our justice system continue to work.

  • agreed July 25, 2009 (9:04 pm)

    Agreed on forensic science luckily that is what led them to this man (DNA and prints). I don’t read racial profiling in the comments at all.

  • boulevard park chris July 25, 2009 (9:58 pm)

    There isn’t such a thing as black on white hate crime. That’s just not pc people! I am deeply sorry for the survivng gf and family. I live a very short distance from South Park. I am friends (really, we have dinner together often and attend bday/holiday parties and do house projects together) with my immediate neighbors around me. We look out for each other. I don’t know if I’m just lucky to have such normal neighbors (you can’t choose your neighbors after all) but I suggest everyone make an effort to at least get to know your neighbors somewhat. However, after this horrible senseless murder I will be taking even further security measures on my property. God bless your soul Ms. Butz

  • Bobz July 26, 2009 (9:10 am)

    Hey, Sam. Sure, we do need to know what the arrestee looks like. Because he may have committed other offenses and the photo might enable his other victims and possible witnesses to now come forward.

  • Lfauntleroy July 26, 2009 (5:56 pm)

    Hey! I happen to think he looks EXACTLY like the police sketch. His lips and eyes are precise for example. His right eye (left when looking at the photo or sketch) is depicted smaller and slightly off center, which is just the same as the photo. I think the sketch is a remarkable resemblance.

  • Deborah July 26, 2009 (6:41 pm)


    – Deborah on Rose Street.

  • sam July 27, 2009 (8:39 am)

    of course we do. the photos for this story have changed since I made that comment.
    FYI, the story IMMEDIATELY before this one has 2 giant photos of this man. SO, there were 2 stories in a row with the same 2 photos.

    now, there is a smaller photo accompanying this story. and.. enough time has passed that when you open the WSB home page, there aren’t 4 big photos of the person filling up the whole screen.

    but that’s not really the point of this story.
    I’m still glad he’s been caught.

Sorry, comment time is over.