The Setup

Chris Butler wanted to be a media celebrity and a badass, until he made what turned out to be a big mistake. He asked Diablo to write about him.



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You may have heard the name Christopher Butler in the news lately but certainly not for reasons that the 49-year-old Concord resident would want you to know about. I’ve been following Butler’s mysterious story since last August, when he invited me to write a Diablo feature about his business. It unexpectedly turned out to be the most interesting—and frightening—story in my 14 years of being a journalist.

It’s probably best to start at the beginning.


 

It all started on August 24, 2010, when I received a call from a Los Angeles–based publicist representing Butler and Associates Private Investigations, Inc. The pitch went like this: Butler’s business was a great story for Diablo. Not only did his firm hire moms to run surveillance on cheating husbands, but it had recently been featured in People magazine and on the Today Show and Dr. Phil—and Butler had just signed a deal for a new reality show on Lifetime Television.

Later that day, I got a call from Chris ButlerChris Butler in his Concord office, who filled me in on his backstory. A former Antioch police officer, Butler acquired his Concord-based private investigation firm sometime around Y2K. He told me he discovered, through trial and error, that moms and gumshoes shared a lot of the same skills.

“At first, I hired former and off-duty law enforcement officers, all men, to work on assignments. They were too often competitive, impatient, and difficult to deal with,” said Butler. “Then, I hired a mom, and she was the best investigator I had worked with. She was patient and a good team player, and she could multitask.”

Butler invited me to come on a ride-along on one of his cases to watch his P.I. Moms in action. He described an upcoming case, in which he and the P.I. Moms would “sting” a philandering husband by sending a young, attractive decoy to flirt with him—maybe at a fitness club or via a dating website—and then try to make a date. If the husband bit, his wife had the goods on him and would be able call the shots in a divorce settlement.

CLICK HERE TO SEE BUTLER AND THE P.I. MOMS ON ABC-7'S VIEW FROM THE BAY

“I’m not crazy about that angle,” I said. “I’d feel better about the ride-along if you were following a guy who was already cheating, not some guy you baited with a hottie.”

The next day, Butler offered to show me precisely what I asked for—the investigation of an active philanderer. Butler had been hired by a wealthy woman, he said, who was suspicious of her much younger fiancé’s activities. The next time that the fiancé was expected to have an opportunity to cheat was September 11, and I was welcome to observe the P.I. Moms’ surveillance techniques. If they saw the guy having an affair, I could even interview The Client afterward, as long as I did not reveal her identity or the identity of her fiancé.


On September 9, I sat down with Chris Butler and several P.I. Moms at the offices of Butler and Associates. The offices were located in a warehouse buildingThe exterior of Butler's office on Detroit Avenue in Concord on Detroit Avenue in Concord, and the first things I noticed upon entering were the framed 8-by-10 photos of detective shows from the 1970s and ’80s, including Charlie’s Angels, Moonlighting, and Magnum, P.I.

To my surprise, The Client, a woman in her early fifties, showed up at the meeting a few minutes after I arrived. She told me she had been in a relationship with The Subject for three years and that she needed to address her suspicions of his infidelity if she was going to spend the rest of her life with him.

“I just want to be sure, to know one way or the other, if something is going on,” said The Client, tearing up. One of the P.I. Moms, Charmagne Peters, jumped up with a box of tissues, and another, Denise Antoon, gave The Client a hug.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Chris Butler told The Client, in a cool, confident tone. “We’re here to observe his behavior and provide you with information. So if there is something going on, you’ll have all your ducks in a row.”

“I just need to be sure,” repeated The Client, crying into the tissue. She turned to me. “I’m just so glad they’re moms,” she said. “They understand what I’m dealing with. They really get it.”

 

Reader Comments:
Mar 21, 2011 03:25 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Loved your article! It's about time Chris Butler's true colors were exposed. Karma has ruled. He is a sociopath and hopefully will be convicted and stay in jail for quite some time and nobody else falls victim his evilness.

Mar 21, 2011 10:23 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

excellent article. glad you uncovere this dirtbag and helped put him away. glad there are still some people in this world who care enough to put themselves out there to protect the rest of us. enjoy your vacation in an undisclosed location...you definately deserve it.

Mar 21, 2011 12:57 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Diablo Magazine -- you should have hired a REAL, ethical, talented P.I. to background Butler before you got snookered. Stick to what you do best - puff pieces on interior designers and chefs, and high-society event coverage. Leave the "investigative journalism" to real reporters. Just a suggestion.

Mar 21, 2011 03:09 pm
 Posted by  sinner

OMG did you go on a wild ride Who can you trust nowadays i hope this does not give Law enforcement a black eye.It is so very sad and sickening Are you an Investigative reporter I might have a story for you.Someone in the community you trust who is so very Evil more like a Wolf in sheep's clothing.Your story is great to bad it's true

Mar 21, 2011 03:49 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Mr. Peter Crooks you are a HERO, I hope they award you a medal for this hard work and some sort of compensation. This makes me sick and Tanabe and Butler should FRY.

Mar 21, 2011 05:19 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

very cool uncovering this scam! It shows the quality and integrity of Diablo Magazine.

Mar 21, 2011 06:01 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Excellent work and article!!

Mar 21, 2011 06:27 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I know one of the P.I. moms, I'm really disappointed it was all for show, I thought she had landed a pretty good gig. I'm glad that likes of scum like Butler got busted (I hope he gets the max).

Mar 21, 2011 08:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

...before Diablo got snookered? Diablo wasn't snookered as you claim. Did you even read the story before posting you moron? Diablo was the only media that didn't buy Butler's story. Grow up and learn to read - hater!

Mar 22, 2011 02:26 am
 Posted by  gatorlily

What an interesting read! This would make a great movie (truth is stranger than fiction). I can't believe that a guy who women was trusting to help with their marital problems was such a sleeze bag. I wondered if he ever invented results to make himself look better to a client. Thanks for your hard work on a great article.

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