Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Managing Editor

LAPLACE – Three arrests were made Thursday night in the murder of Natasha Baggett Butler, 31, who was killed on Sept. 20, 2004, in her Country Club Drive home and her house set on fire to possibly conceal evidence of the crime.

The three LaPlace men are all charged with first-degree murder and are jailed, on a half-million-dollar bond each, set by 40th Judicial District Judge Madeline Jasmine.

The arrestees were identified by Maj. Michael Tregre as Bryan Stewart, 18; Mark Kinler, 18, and Anthony Babin, age not available.

Tregre said Stewart was picked up for questioning on possible involvement in a burglary. Long considered a suspect, Tregre added, detectives further questioned Stewart regarding the homicide of Butler. Tregre said he readily confessed and implicated the other two men.

Butler was found at approximately 8:55 a.m., burned, bound and gagged in the bathtub of her single-level home located at 2253 Country Club Drive in LaPlace.

The woman was found by a male friend, who called the 911 Center before seeking help at the home of Butler’s neighbor.

Authorities believe Butler’s

house was intentionally set on fire to destroy evidence of the murder. Soot containing footprints of the possible murderer was discovered by local firemen responding to the call. The fire marshal removed remnants of carpet and buckets of soot from the home.

Several articles were taken from the home of Butler, including her black Ford Mustang convertible, for further investigation.

Butler’s pet cat was rescued unharmed. However, her aged Cocker Spaniel was removed in a silver body bag. It was unclear at the time if the dog died in the fire or if it was killed by the perpetrator.

A $2,500 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and convictions of the person(s) responsible for murdering Butler.