Keith Wasn’t Messing Around
October 2, 1999, a young medical student named Michanne Mattson was attacked outside of her apartment building. In the middle of the night, Keith Nelson attacked her and held a knife to her throat. He attempted to drag her kicking and struggling from her apartment parking lot to his pickup truck. Keith told her not to say anything or he would cut her throat. Then he handcuffed Michanne’s left wrist and began pushing her towards his truck with the knife to her throat. Keith kept yelling at her over and over again calling her a fucking bitch.
Michanne managed to pull the knife down from her throat and yell for help, but Keith’s gloved hands were over her mouth. She dropped to her knees and Keith started dragging Michanne by the handcuffs closer to his truck. All the while he was dragging her, he kept calling her a fucking bitch. Quick thinking Michanne went limp and fell to the pavement. She rolled away from him and kept screaming for help.
Then Keith Nelson ripped Michanne’s purse off her shoulder and ran to his truck. As he was running, he looked back at her and yelled “If you look at me, bitch, I’ll kill you. Don’t look at me. Better run, bitch, I’ll kill you.” Michanne managed to get some help, but by then, Keith was gone.
Keith Nelson Kidnaps Pamela Butler
Pamela Butler, a ten-year-old 5th-grade student was described as a bright, intelligent little girl. She loved going to school, she loved her teacher and she loved her friends. About a week after Michanne’s attempted abduction, Pamela Butler came home from school like she always did. Later, she went rollerblading to a nearby gas station and bought some cookies and pop. Her sister, Penny, watched her leave.
A few minutes later, Penny saw Pamela rollerblading toward their home. She skated past a white Ford pick-up truck that was parked on the side of the road. The truck had its door slightly ajar. When Pamela approached the truck, Penny saw a man come out of the truck and grab Pamela. He threw her in the vehicle, slammed the door, and drove off.
Penny began screaming hysterically. Hearing her screams, her older sister Casey came running out of the house. Casey saw Penny pointing and watched the pickup truck pull away. The man later determined to be Keith Nelson, drove past them, and flipped Casey and Penny off.
The girls’ screaming and the truck’s tires squealing attracted the attention of Paul Wilt. Paul gave chase, but eventually lost sight of Keith Nelson’s truck. However, Paul was able to get its license tag number—177-CE2 and called the police.
Clues Emerge In Pamela Butler’s Kidnapping
Between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. that same evening, Carl and Shirley Condra drove to their church Grain Valley, Missouri. They attended the church but also did custodial work; cleaning it when no one was there. The Condras noticed a white Ford pickup truck parked behind the church, which was odd because no one was supposed to be there. They didn’t recognize the truck as belonging to any member of the congregation and became suspicious of it. It was just sitting there unlocked. There was no around or inside the vehicle. Eventually, they went back to cleaning the church and then went home.
Later that night, while watching the evening news, they heard the story of Pamela Butler’s abduction. The news reporter described the truck Pamela was last seen in. The Condras immediately knew it was the same truck they had seen at the church so they called the police. The police went to the church, but the truck was gone.
Sometime later in the evening after Pamela’s abduction, Keith went to his mother Nancy’s house in Kansas City, Missouri. Together, they went to the Oasis bar, which was a block and a half away from Pamela’s home. Nancy drank at the Oasis, while Keith played video games. After they left the bar, they stopped at the same gas station where Pamela had bought her cookies and pop. Keith needed to get some cigarettes. Then Keith Nelson and his mom drove to Keith’s girlfriend Kelli’s house. Together the three watched the news about Pamela’s kidnapping. According to Kelli, Keith showed no anxiety, remorse, grief, or other reaction to the news story. He seemed completely normal. Awhile later, Keith and his mom went home.
At 11:00 p.m., Patti Griffith, Nancy’s next-door neighbor, saw Keith Nelson on the passenger side of the truck wiping the dashboard. Keith would periodically glance up and down the street to see if anyone was watching. Around 2:00 a.m. Keith drove away in his truck. A few minutes later he called for a cab to come and get him. He was about 10 blocks from his house. The dispatcher who took the call recalled Keith being “real cool” and “cool as a cucumber.” Keith even told the dispatcher a joke and seemed to be in good mood. Not long after that, a noise awakened Patti. When she looked out the window to see what was going on, she noticed Keith’s truck was gone, and he was pacing around in the yard.
The next day, the police found his abandoned truck. It was completely cleaned out and left unlocked with the keys lying on the floorboard. By this time, the police had started a huge manhunt to find Keith Nelson and Pamela Butler.
On Thursday, two days after the kidnapping, Laurie Torrez, a civilian employee of the Kansas City Police Department, went to the Santa Fe Rail Yards to bring her husband his lunch. On her way to the rail yards, she took a detour and spotted Keith, whom she recognized from police photos. He was laying under the 18th Street Bridge. Apparently, Keith Nelson had attempted to lower himself from the bridge, but when he did he fell and was unable to move. Laurie called the police.
When they arrived at the scene they determined that the only way to get Keith out from under the bridge was via helicopter. While they were waiting for a helicopter team to extract him, a large crowd of onlookers assembled. Someone from the crowd yelled out to Keith, “What about the girl?” Keith replied, “I know where she’s at, but I’m not saying right now.” Later that day, Keith was charged with the kidnapping of Pamela Butler. He refused to cooperate with authorities in helping them find Pamela.
Finding Pamela Butler
The next day, police officers searched the woods and fields east of the church where the Condra’s reported seeing Keith Nelson’s truck. There, they made a disturbing finding. They discovered Pamela Butler’s white sports bra and her underwear. Not long after, they found the 10-year-olds nude, lifeless body buried under a pile of brush. A wire was wrapped tightly around her throat.
An autopsy was conducted. The results revealed numerous scrapes, abrasions, and blunt force trauma to Pamela’s mouth and head. She had been beaten. Her hymen had been torn near the time of death. Redness and irritation were present in her genital area indicating she had been raped. Pamela’s official cause of death was strangulation. Her underwear was sent to the FBI for analysis and semen in the crotch area matched Keith Nelson’s DNA.
Keith Nelson’s Bizarre Behavior
While he was awaiting trial, Keith Nelson remained in jail without bond. His unlucky cellmate, Edward Frazier, described some disturbing conversations Keith had with him. Keith would talk about his fantasies of kidnapping and torturing women. He told Edward he wanted to build a cell to hold a woman captive. He wanted to first stalk a potential victim for a week, monitoring her every move. Then, at some point, he would kidnap them, put them in a cell filled only with cotton for them to lay on. They wouldn’t be allowed a bed. Also, Keith said he wouldn’t allow his victim to shower. The only thing they would have is a toilet. They wouldn’t even be given toilet paper.
Keith fantasized about keeping his victims bound so he could “do whatever I wanted to them.” In addition, Keith Nelson said he knew how to tie a person down to where he could actually put them in different positions to have sex with them. He described all the different positions and ways to have sex. Finally, when Keith was done having “fun” with his victims he would kill them. While he did not tell Edward precisely how he would kill his victims, he did tell him that he would dispose of the bodies “the old-fashioned way” by throwing them in the river.
Re-enacting Pamela Butler’s Murder
Another unfortunate prisoner named Stephen, who had the cell was next door to Keith’s cell, reported hearing disturbing sounds coming from Keith Nelson’s cell. In March of 2000, at about 3:00 a.m. Stephen heard a voice coming from Keith’s cell. He recognized the voice as Keith’s. Stephen heard high-pitched, low volume type screams that sounded like “a little girl crying for mommy.” These sounds were repeated multiple times during a five-to-ten minute period.
A few days later, while Stephen was awake reading in the middle of the night, he heard similar sounds coming from Keith’s cell again. The sounds were a series of short high-pitched screams. Stephen heard Keith talking in a little girl’s voice, crying for her mommy, and asking for help, begging to not be hurt or killed. The next day Keith did it again. It was Keith re-enacting the murder of Pamela to himself. The last time Keith did this, Stephen confronted him saying, “How could you do that to that little girl?” Keith replied, “You wouldn’t believe it.”
Keith Nelson’s Execution
A trial date was set for October 25, 2001. Keith Nelson was found guilty for the murder of Pamela Butler and was sentenced to death. In August of 2020, he was executed by lethal injection. He never displayed any remorse for the crime.