FRANKENMUTH, MI – Paul T. Butterfield, father of the Michigan State Police trooper murdered by Eric John Knysz, felt little when he learned of Knysz’s death Thursday, April 17.
“I’m kind of unemotional,” Butterfield, a retired state trooper living in Frankenmuth, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have any feelings one way or the other. I’m not happy, I’m not sad.
“He was just a very troubled young person,” he said of Knysz.
Knysz without warning and without provocation shot Trooper Paul K. Butterfield II in the head Sept. 9, 2013, after a traffic stop on a rural road in Mason County.
“The thing is, none of this is bringing my son back,” the elder Butterfield said. “His (Knysz’s) death doesn’t help anything. I guess I don’t have to think about what he’s doing now, walking around.
“He chose to make that decision. My son didn’t have that choice. Eric had a choice; my son didn’t.”
Butterfield said he believes Knysz killed himself because he was scared of prison. “He was a guy that’s 20 years old, and he could spend the next 60 years in prison. Looking at his mugshot there from Jackson, he looked kind of frightened.”
Knysz, 20, hanged himself with a bed sheet Monday, April 14, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He was declared brain dead shortly after and kept alive on a ventilator until about 10:30 a.m. April 17 for his organs to be donated.
Knysz had been transported to state prison April 10 from the Mason County Jail to begin serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of a peace officer.
At Knysz’s sentencing April 8 in Ludington, Butterfield described his son at age 19 – a track star, soon-to-be soldier, future state trooper. He contrasted that with Knysz, who was 19 with a felony record when he killed the trooper, and told Knysz he hoped he’d think every day of his life sentence about what he’d done.
Asked after the sentencing if he was glad it was over, Butterfield summed up the feelings of a grieving parent about the whole situation: “It’ll never be over.”
Butterfield said Thursday he does have some sympathy for Knysz’s family. “They’ve been through a lot, I’ve got to give them that,” he said. “This couldn’t have been easy for them, either.”