Albert Johnson previously tried to get a job at Tony Butterfield's landscaping company, his wife told police

By Harriet Sokmensuer
April 24, 2020 05:56 PM
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Credit: Go Fund Me

The man accused of killing a Utah couple in their home as their children slept upstairs had previously tried to get a job at their family business, his wife told detectives.

Albert Johnson is accused of breaking into Katherine and Tony Butterfield’s West Jordan home early Saturday morning and fatally shooting them both. His wife, Sani Johnson, has been charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice after allegedly helping her husband get rid of bloody clothes.

During an interview with detectives, Sani allegedly said her husband knew the couple because he had attempted to get a job at their family’s landscaping company, West Jordan Police Department Sgt. J.C. Holt tells PEOPLE.

Whether this is the motive for the couple’s killings remains unclear, as Holt says he’s unable to release any additional information involving the case.

Credit: Go Fund Me

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According to charging documents, Sani Johnson told police that, on the night of the couple’s deaths, her husband came home at around 3 or 4 a.m. claiming someone had stabbed him and that his life was over.

He rushed to take a shower before changing his clothes and leaving, she allegedly said. When she learned about the couple’s deaths, she allegedly admitted to cleaning her apartment because there was blood downstairs in the hallway and bathroom.

She then allegedly threw away his bloody clothes and shoes, which were later recovered by detectives, Holt said.

Sina Johnson and Albert Enoch Johnson
| Credit: Salt Lake County Jail; West Jordan Police Department

Early Saturday morning, police responded to reports of a shooting when a neighbor called 911 around 1:15 a.m. to report the sounds of gunshots and a woman screaming.

Upon arrival, officers found Katherine dead inside the home while Tony’s body was in the backyard. Officers believe Tony and the suspect got into a fight in the backyard and the suspect was injured with a knife.

“Despite fighting for their lives, they were brutally shot and killed while their 3 children, ages 4 and under, slept upstairs,” the family’s close friends said on GoFundMe. “While we are so grateful that their children were not harmed, we are devastated at the loss of their loving parents.”

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On Wednesday morning, Johnson was arrested in Sacramento, California, where Johnson had once served time in prison, Holt said. It is unclear if Johnson has been charged or if he or Sani have an attorney.

A GoFundMe page set up by longtime friend Chelsey Timmerman has raised more than $230,000 of its $300,000 goal.