NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — Friends of 86-year-old Fusako Petrus gathered at Highlands High School Friday night. She was attacked two days ago while walking on the school’s track. Meanwhile, her accused killer was in court today facing charges for a different attack.
“I saw the picture that came out and we were like ‘Oh, that’s Neven,’” said Justin Hernandez, a senior at Highlands High School.
Flowers lined the gate outside of the track, making a small memorial for Petrus. 18-year-old Neven Glen Butler is behind bars and accused of her murder.
“He didn’t seem like the kind of person to do something like that,” Hernandez said. “I just think something snapped!”
According to Twin Rivers Unified School District, Butler was a student at Highlands High until last December. He played football on the 2015-2016 varsity team and one of his Instagram friends told CBS13 he often talked about a career in football.
Butler stood calmly and quietly behind bars in the courtroom. He now faces two charges: for elder abuse and inflicting bodily injury on a person over 70.
“It would not surprise me if they were to file a homicide charge in light of what we’ve heard,” said Linda Parisi, who was appointed to be Butler’s public defender on Friday.
Butler was arrested Wednesday after Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies say he assaulted a 92-year-old woman on Northrop Avenue. That was just nine hours after police say he attacked a 61-year-old at the high school and killed Fusako Petrus.
“He’s damaged, something went wrong with him,” said Denise Gore. “You cannot be that young and that evil and something not have went wrong.”
Denise Gore lived next door to Fusako for 55 years and said she was like family. She joined about a dozen people outside of the school on Friday to lay flowers and remember Fusako. Longtime friend Vicki Butler told CBS13 she broke the news of Fusako’s death to her niece back in Japan.’
“It was just – it’s been the toughest moment for me so far,” Butler explained. “She was just – she cried!”
Gore says Butler should be punished and never walk free again.
“Hopefully, he can ask God to forgive him cause that’s the only one now that can have mercy on him,” Gore said.
Butler is scheduled to return to court on Monday and possibly face more charges. Fusako’s friends are sad to see the track locked because of what happened and say their friend wouldn’t be happy if she were here to see it closed.