Friends visiting Scott Siding witness violence, kidnapping at gunpoint

by | Dec 9, 2023

More witnesses testify at Rodney Butler trial in Woodstock

Two more witnesses at the Rodney Butler trial on Friday told the Woodstock Provincial Court they witnessed a kidnapping at gunpoint while seated around a kitchen table at the home of their friend in Scotts Siding.

RCMP charged Butler, 49, of Bulls Creek, with reckless discharge of a firearm, indictable assault, uttering threats, using a handgun to kidnap Chris Demerchant, unlawful confinement, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace, possession of a firearm without a licence, and illegal possession of a firearm in a vehicle on Nov. 13, 2021, at Bulls Creek.

The next day, the RCMP was on the scene of a fatal shooting on Route 165 at Bulls Creek. Christine Pelletier-Thibodeau, 35, died as a result of her injuries. Over the next several days, police tape was erected around the property, including Butler’s residence, which was surrounded by a vehicle salvage yard.

On Dec. 8, Krista Grant of Canterbury testified she and her best friend, Kenneth Hatheway, were out gathering fir tips when they decided to stop at the home of their friend Chris Demerchant around 6:30 p.m. Ryan Purvis was there when they arrived. She said Purvis was staying with Demerchant at the time. (Purvis later died in an unrelated 2023 drowning in Woodstock.)

Shortly after their arrival, Purvis left to work on a car that broke down in the woods near Benton. They were seated around the kitchen table with Demerchant when Butler and Pelletier-Thibodeau drove into the yard and entered the home.

Grant said Butler and Demerchant were business partners “doing their car thing.” Butler seemed angry on the day of the incident and wanted to know Purvis’ whereabouts. Demerchant told him Purvis was up the road working on a car.

Butler began to shout and swear at Demerchant and then drove a hunting knife into the center of the table. Grant said she was seated nearby.
“I knew when the knife went in the table, it was serious,” Grant told the court.

Grant stood to say she was leaving, but Pelletier-Thibodeau yelled for her to stay seated. When Demerchant stood, Butler head-butted him, made threats, and insisted he go with him to find Purvis. As they moved toward the door, Pelletier-Thibodeau announced everyone was leaving.

“Rodney said: ‘Krista, you didn’t see me tonight,’” Grant testified. “I said, sounds good to me, buddy.”

Butler then remarked to Demerchant, “Same goes for you.”

Demerchant replied: “I don’t know you.”

Grant said Butler “went ballistic” and pulled a handgun from his waistband.

“I paid your debt,” Butler yelled at Demerchant. “I should shoot you right in the eye.”

“They proceeded to drag Chris out the door without his shoes on,” Grant recalled. “They made him go at gunpoint. He didn’t want to go.”

Demerchant protested to Butler, saying he had family obligations and couldn’t leave.

One by one, the group exited Demerchant’s home. Butler, Pelletier-Thibodeau, Demerchant, and Timothy Grant, who was waiting outside, left together in a Ford Escape. She and Hatheway drove away in his vehicle, both upset by the incident.

They drove to the store in Canterbury and then returned to Scotts Siding, where they saw a van in the ditch with its lights on and bullet holes in the windshield. They checked to see if Demerchant had returned home.

“We didn’t see anyone,” she told the court.

Grant said she made a phone call to Troy Demerchant to warn him his brother had been taken at gunpoint. Troy Demerchant advised them to leave Scotts Siding immediately. She called him again from a churchyard in Canterbury but didn’t call the police.

The next day, Grant said she received a phone call from Chris Demerchant, who told her he had been beaten and wanted her to come over. When she arrived, she didn’t recognize her friend.

“He was beat to pieces,” Grant told the court. “He was all beat to hell. His clothes were ripped. He was covered in blood.”

Grant attended to his wounds, noting Demerchant’s “head was smashed in, and his were eyes swollen shut.” She used salt water to help open his eyes. Demerchant muttered someone else had been shot, but he didn’t know if they survived.

Wiping away tears on the witness stand, Grant said the events surrounding Pelletier-Thibodeau’s death were upsetting for both her and Hatheway.

“I’m sorry someone died,” Grant testified. “I didn’t want to be here today or participate in these hearings at all. I didn’t want any blowback from Rodney or consequences for me or my loved ones.”

During cross-examination, Grant admitted to having a criminal record. She said she didn’t see Ryan Purvis again until 14 months after he got out of jail. She never knew Purvis to carry a gun but acknowledged Demerchant did have guns for hunting.

Grant also testified she saw Butler use alcohol and cocaine in the past and explained that a “goober” used by Butler on the day of the incident was another word for an ice (meth) pill.

Kenneth Hatheway of Irish Settlement testified he was also sitting at the kitchen table inside Demerchant’s home when Butler and Pelletier-Thibodeau arrived. He said the meeting made him fear for his life.
“Tensions were high,” Hatheway told the court. “Rodney had a bone to pick with Chris. They heatedly discussed whatever it was that was bothering him. Rodney pulled a knife out and stabbed it into the table to make his point.”

Hatheway said he did not speak during the incident. He saw Butler get in Demerchant’s face, but Demerchant seemed calm.

“Things went haywire,” Hatheway said when Demerchant answered Butler: “I don’t know you,” as if he was “disowning him.” Hatheway believed Butler misunderstood Demerchant’s statement when he pulled out the handgun.

“I thought we were all dead,” Hatheway stated.

As everyone prepared to leave, Hatheway said he was the first one out the door. On his way outside, he passed Timothy Grant. He hadn’t known him or Pelletier-Thibodeau before that day.

Hatheway saw Demerchant get in a vehicle with Butler, Pelletier-Thibodeau and Timothy Grant. He left the driveway with Krista Grant in his vehicle. They found out later that Pelletier-Thibodeau had been shot and killed at Butler’s home in Bulls Creek.

“It’s a tragic event,” Hatheway told the court. “Someone lost their life. It’s regrettable because it could have been prevented.”

Crown Prosecutors Rodney Jordan and Gwynne Hearn and Defence Counsel Alex Pate led the trial proceedings on Dec. 8 before Associate Chief Judge Brian C. McLean.

The trial was adjourned to Jan. 11 at 9:30 a.m. when Chris Demerchant is expected to deliver a full day of testimony. The crown will also present more police evidence.

Rodney Butler and his late partner Christine Pelletier-Thibodeau. (Photo submitted)

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