Trooper murderer left several notes before his suicide

May 12, 2014

eric_knysz_sentencing_trooper_butterfield_5Eric John Knysz, the man who killed Trooper Paul Butterfield, left notes around his prison cell shortly before he hung himself last month. Mlive.com acquired parts  the Michigan State Police report through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. The investigation remains under investigation but the department released reports through May 6.

The report stated that a corrections officer found Knysz around 3:30 p.m. April 14 hanging in the Jackson prison cell. Knysz was confined alone. He was kept alive on life support at a nearby hospital until April 17, when life support was removed so his organs could be harvested.

Knysz, 20, of Irons, was convicted of the first-degree murder. According to evidence at his trial, including his own recorded confession, he shot the 43-year-old Butterfield in the head Sept. 9, 2013, at a traffic stop on North Custer Road in Free Soil Township.

Knysz was sentenced April 8 by 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper to life in prison without chance of parole. He was transported April 10 from the Mason County Jail, where he’d been kept on suicide watch, to the Michigan Dept. of Correction’s Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson. He hanged himself four days later.

Investigators didn’t find what the detective called “a true suicide note” in Knysz’s cell but did find several handwritten notes that, in the detective’s words, “contemplate suicide.” The notes contained some misspellings.

Notes read messages such as: “I hope you can forgive me Lord”;  “My life is over at just 20. Yours doesn’t have to be. Stop f—in around an start a family an stop breaking the law.”

The report doesn’t indicate whom that was addressed to, however Knysz’s wife, Sarah Renee Knysz, 21,  is serving a prison sentence of two to five years for helping her husband flee after the shooting. On Dec. 25, 2013, she had a baby boy. MCP has been told the baby is in the care of her family.

Another note read: “Father if you accept my decision I will be with you tommrow evening. I (hope?) and prey that you do and have mercy on my soul.”

On another sheet of paper titled “Health care request” was listed this problem or symptom: “I need to get out of here now.”

According to the police report, Knysz was found hanging from a light fixture in a corner of his cell, a white towel tied around his face and covering his eyes. A detective concluded he had torn a long strip from his light-blue bed sheet, braided it into a noose, attached it to the fixture and hanged himself.

An autopsy conducted April 17, the day Knysz died, showed no signs of trauma or injury other than the ligature marks around his neck, the detective reported. Knysz did not appear to have any defensive or offensive injuries, and the interior of his skull showed no sign of head injuries, according to the police report.

The final autopsy report and toxicology reports were still pending.

Knysz was alone in his cell and no inmates were in the two cells on either side of his.

An ambulance transported Knysz to Allegiance Hospital where he was placed on life support without hope of recovery. He was declared brain dead at 2:45 p.m. the next day, April 15. The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office told the detective that would be the time of death shown on his death certificate.

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