The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. cleared UC San Diego student Peter Butcher of the syringe attack that occurred on April 5 at the beach in front of Sandpiper Golf Course.
The Sheriff’s Dept. arrested Butcher on April 6 for assault with a deadly weapon and booked him into the San Diego County Jail with bail set at $250,000. He was cleared Thursday after Santa Barbara County sheriff’s detectives “positively identified” Butcher as being in the San Diego area at the time of the beach attack, Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Byrne said.
“In an unusual collaboration, Mr. Butcher’s defense team provided a detailed alibi to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office and Sheriff’s Dept. on Friday, April 12,” Byrne said. “The Sheriff’s Dept. conducted interviews with those witnesses, some of whom were given polygraph examinations. Investigators are satisfied that Mr. Butcher was not in Santa Barbara on April 5 when the last attack occurred.”
Two prior cases, in which women were attacked with a syringe filled with a tranquilizer, occurred in January. In the first, a man attacked a French tourist in Santa Barbara City.
In the second, a man knocked down a girl skiing at Mammoth Mountain and held her down, then injected her with a tranquilizer. The method of attack again matched the I.V. incident and investigators said at the time of Butcher’s arrest that witness description matched him.
Butcher appeared in court on Tuesday, where a judge turned down his plea to move the case to San Diego. Byrne said sheriff’s detectives were convinced of Butcher’s alibi by Wednesday.
“The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. regrets the hardship and distress this has caused Mr. Butcher and his family,” Byrne said.
The Sheriff’s Dept. will continue their investigation, which will now focus on other possible suspects, Byrne said.