NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – After seven years, the North Salem community is still reeling from the murder of 17-year-old Elizabeth Butler by her estranged boyfriend. Residents gathered Sunday for the seventh time since Butler's death for a walk to raise awareness about teen domestic violence.
The walk kicked off at the North Salem Lion’s Club with speeches from 40th District State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), North Salem Town Supervisor Warren Lucas, Assembly member Steve Katz of the 94th District (R-Yorktown) and others.
The rape and fatal stabbing by an estranged older boyfriend shocked the community of North Salem in 2005 and a group of Butler's supporters started the Elizabeth G. Butler Angel Foundation, which sponsors the walk.
The foundation's mission is to teach young people the warning signs of domestic violence and empower teens to seek help to prevent dating abuse.
Katz said he attended several events recently where he was moved hearing the stories of domestic violence victims. “I spent the last couple of days at some domestic violence vigils and I will tell you something, the testimony from these women is enough to bring you right back to perspective about the things that are important in our lives, and one of them is certainly to protect our community, to make sure things like this never happen again.”
Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) praised Butler’s family for the strength it takes to put on this event each year in spite of the grief that is refreshed with every walk. Butler’s mother Patti, father Bill and sister Bonnie were all present Sunday.
“I know this an incredible stress for them and it brings up such painful memories and yet to turn that into such a positive and that everyone in North Salem has come out to support them and to support this cause is truly a testament to this community,” he said.
Harckham said that as a legislator, he spends a lot of time working on domestic violence issues at the county level, so he knows that while it is positive there is help for victims and more laws to prosecute abusers, this message of awareness and support must be kept alive.