Suspect Indicted in 1992 East Texas Triple Slaying

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LINDEN, Texas — A convicted criminal who was arrested 15 years ago but not indicted for the 1992 slaying of a woman and her two daughters has now been indicted in the case, authorities said.

A Cass County grand jury indicted Michael Kevin Hailey on Thursday on one count of capital murder for the deaths of Gerri-Faye Butts and her daughters Jessica Butts, 11, and Mackenzie Sullivan Butts, 3.

District Attorney Clint Allen said the state will seek the death penalty. He said he pursued only one count of capital murder because of 1992 laws, which allow the state to seek the death penalty when there are multiple deaths in one crime.

"The indictment is based on a review of the evidence with technology that was not available in 1992," Allen said. He declined to elaborate further on the investigation.

Hailey, who was 24 when the slayings occurred, is currently serving an 87-year prison term in the Louisiana State Penitentiary on an attempted murder conviction from 2004.

Contacted by telephone late Thursday, a prison employee confirmed Hailey was being held in the Angola, La., facility but wouldn't make him available for comment.

The victims' bodies were found in their mobile home in Atlanta, about 150 miles east of Dallas, on Jan. 27, 1992.

According to police records, Gerri-Faye Butts was found strangled on the living room couch. The body of Jessica Butts was found on her bed, a telephone cord wrapped around her neck. She had been sexually assaulted. Mackenzie Butts was found face-down in the bathtub. She drowned in less than 3 inches of water.

Atlanta police arrested Hailey for the crime two months later, but a grand jury declined to indict him.

In December 1992, the saga played out on national television when members of the Hailey and Butts families appeared on "The Maury Povich Show."

Allen said he will seek Hailey's extradition to Texas, which he said could take up to three months. He said he expects a change of venue for the trial because of the case's high profile.

The victims' family members said they were grateful for the indictment.

"Thank God for Clint Allen," said Lannette Butts Wallace, mother and grandmother of the victims. "He's accomplished in 15 months what the others couldn't do in 15 years."