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Man found dead in 95 after evening with friends
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Lt. Gerald Couch of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office walks around the abandoned home in which Michael Anthony Butts, 27, was discovered dead Jan. 8, 1995, by family members. Several shots were fired but officers never found the killer.

About this series

This is part of a weekly series on unsolved murders in Hall County. Anyone with information should call Lieutenant Gerald Couch at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division at 770-531-6879.

More than 15 years ago, Michael Anthony Butts was found dead in his home. Hall County Sheriff’s deputies are still looking for clues.

Around noon on Jan. 8, 1995, Butts’ girlfriend found him on the floor of the living room, just inside the door. He lived alone at 1744 Moon Drive and had friends over the night before, but no one knows what happened after the guests left.

“Everyone in the neighborhood knew him, and he was very friendly and outgoing,” said Lt. Gerald Couch, a Criminal  Investigations Division detective who was on the scene that cold January afternoon. “He had a lot of family members in the area, and we still stay in touch with them.”

Detectives covered the nearby streets, interviewing as many neighbors and family members as possible. The 27-year-old had been shot, and the offender spent some time in the home after Butts was shot.

“According to evidence at the scene, it was probably a robbery,” Couch said. “It looks like after the gathering of friends,

Butts met the person at the doorway and was subsequently shot and killed.”

The home, tucked away on a dead-end road off Athens Street in Gainesville, has boards over the windows and kudzu covering the front of the house. The crime scene has changed dramatically, but police haven’t closed the cold case.

The early to mid-1990s was a violent time in Gainesville’s history. There were eight murders in 1995, and nine murders the previous year. In recent years, Gainesville and Hall County have averaged two or three murders a year.

“We had some leads and talked to the people at the house the night before. We learned a lot of people were out in the neighborhood late into the night,” Couch said. “The information is out there, but we need someone to bring it to us.”

Couch couldn’t reveal more information about the still pending case, but he hopes someone will speak up after all these years.

“This one can be solved. The right person is out there, and we hope they will give peace and closure to the family,” he said.

“We think the people who lived around here will remember Butts and his kindness, which will prompt someone to come forward.”

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