1 year later: Is someone helping ‘Butch’ Knight hide?

Posted at 9:48 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 21:48:27-05

ALLEGAN, Mich. — He has avoided police for exactly one year after admitting to killing his wife to a 911 dispatcher, and investigators believe if he's still alive it's possible someone is helping Harold 'Butch' Knight hide, likely without even knowing it.

Capt. Mike Larsen, the lead detective on the case for the Allegan County Sheriff's Office, said authorities have no indication Knight is still even in the country at this point.

“Obviously there are things people need in today’s society to survive: phones, financial transaction devices, medical care; we’re monitoring all of those with no activity," Larsen told FOX 17.

“If he’s been able to do this on his own, it’s a really large feat; to be a loner in this world."

Butch Knight spotted changing appearance in Maine.

Butch Knight spotted changing appearance in Maine.

The trail has been cold for several months. The last confirmed sightings of Knight were in Maine in the early part of 2015 when he was spotted on surveillance at a local Wal-Mart and then later checking into a hotel in a city about an hour away. Police would later uncover his getaway car which was ditched in a parking lot in Maine where it'd been buried under snow for nearly a month before it was reported.

“It’s frustrating, he had the advantage of pre-planning," Larsen said. “Initially we were two days behind. He called it in himself when he already had a head start. We did all the things we could, contacted all the places we thought were necessary, he was able to just get farther and farther away."

Knight called 911 the morning of Jan. 13 to tell police he strangled his wife Sara, two days after police determined she was actually was killed. Investigators later discovered he made the call from a burner cell phone that pinged off a tower near Ann Arbor.

"It’s a very bizarre phone call," Larsen said. “This wasn’t a remorseful phone call. A remorseful person turns themselves in, and takes accountability for their actions. A calculated individual who purposely takes certain actions is more in line with what we’re seeing here.”

'Butch' was headed toward Maine the day of the call before police even arrived at the couple's home near Fennville, and soon a two day lead became 16 days.

The lingering case has become one of the most baffling for Larsen in his 22 years of law enforcement.

“I’ve never seen a violent crime of this magnitude that had that many crumbs left as a trail that led to someone calling it in on themselves," he said.

Larsen acknowledges Knight's background—being a former truck driver with a pilots license with training in IT engineering—makes him an extremely intelligent and difficult fugitive to pin down, calling him 'slippery.'

"There were a lot of skill sets he developed and a lot of networking that comes with that background. It’s possible he has developed a friend who he might not have been honest with from the very beginning about who he was and where he’s from," he said.

“But I would find it hard to believe he’s receiving help from someone who truly knows who he is and what he’s done."

It's also likely 'Butch' has taken on a new identity, Larsen suggests, one lending himself to be more likable and "someone you’d be wanting to help.”

"He strikes me as that kind of a calculating individual that every person he may have encountered his entire life, he categorized for a certain need, potentially, including his wife," he said.

It's a sentiment now shared by at least some of Sara Knight's family, including her daughter, who told FOX 17 she lives in fear not knowing where her stepfather is now.

“If he can do it to my mother, and she was a very smart individual and would not have just sat there and let him kill her, he’s capable of killing anybody," said Roxanne Cameron-Harris.

While the 911 call her stepfather made continues to haunt her, it's the few months and even weeks prior to her mother's murder she said there were 'oddities' she wished she hadn't overlooked.

"Slowly my mom gained weight, and slowly she wasn’t happy anymore. You could just read it across her face. She was just, something wasn’t right," she told FOX 17.

Undated photo of 'Butch' and Sara Knight.

Undated photo of 'Butch' and Sara Knight.

Butch and Sara abruptly left for Maine where they lived for roughly seven years before moving back to Michigan in the summer of 2014, Cameron-Harris said. The couple who returned was not the same one who left, she contends.

“It was interesting, when they were staying with me, Butch started a fight between me and my mother and (he) had told mom that I didn’t want them there and that I was kicking them out," she said. "It didn’t make any sense.”

And then, just days before her murder, Cameron-Harris received an odd call from her mother.

“She didn’t go into detail. We had a weird conversation the Friday before (she was killed). She said that, and this is the only thing she mentioned to me, Butch was acting really strange," she said.

“I wish I would’ve asked a lot more questions or told mom how I felt that week.”

In the time since his disappearance and the handful of confirmed sightings in early 2015 in Maine, the only other new lead in the case came in the form a Facebook 'like' last summer. Larsen said someone using Sara Knight's account 'liked' a family photo, leading investigators and family to wonder if 'Butch' was behind it.

However, investigators are still fighting the social media giant to secure a search warrant of the profile. Narrowing in on the IP address the account activity came from would've potentially provided a huge break in the case, Larsen told FOX 17.

"It’s a matter of vanishing into thin air in today’s society, which seems impossible," he said.

U.S. Marshals sayKnight should be considered armed and dangerous.  The Allegan County Sheriff's Office is still asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to call them at (269) 673-0500.