Florida Keys

How a French bulldog named Butterbean helped put his owner in a Keys jail

Edgar Wallis Jones
Edgar Wallis Jones Monroe County Sheriff's Office

And you thought a dog was man’s best friend.

This one led his owner to jail.

Butterbean is a chubby tan French bulldog. He suddenly became a canine of interest to Florida Keys deputies who were looking for a suspect.

The deputies said Butterbean’s owner harassed a Jehovah’s Witness on a Marathon beach, trying to take all of the religious advocate’s free pamphlets after scolding him for handing them out in public.

Cops say witnesses remembered Butterbean. He had gnawed on the literature, deputies said.

Deputies went searching for the dog. And in the process, they found the suspect.

Edgar Wallis Jones, 59, was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

It all started on Sombrero Beach at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6, when a man called the police to report a man had grabbed his literature cart and the man’s dog chewed on some of the papers.

Deputy Ian Douthirt was on the case.

“He gave Deputy Douthirt a description of the suspect as well as the dog,” said Adam Linhardt, the sheriff’s spokesman.

Douthirt searched the beach, where he found several people who said they had seen the man described by the victim as well as the dog.

“They didn’t know the man’s name but the dog was described as an older, chubby, tan and white French bulldog,” Linhardt said. “One witness stated the man said the dog’s name is Butterbean but he did not choose it.”

The suspect said children chose the dog’s name.

The deputy contacted animal shelters and veterinarians’ offices. One said they did have a file for a Frenchie named Butterbean but wouldn’t provide further information since the incident did not involve the dog directly, Linhardt said.

The sheriff’s office posted on its Facebook page about Butterbean, in search of his owner.

But in the end, shoe-leather police work solved the case, according to the report

Douthirt returned to Sombrero Beach on Feb. 11 and walked to the same pavilion where the victim had been standing.

He heard a dog bark.

He then spotted a tan and white French bulldog on a leash being held by a man who matched the suspect’s description. Douthirt asked the man what his dog’s name was and the man replied, “Butterbean.”

Just as he’d told the beachgoers, the man then stated he did not name the dog. Children chose the name, he said.

The man provided his name — Jones — and Douthirt told him about his investigation. Jones said something occurred with a Jehovah’s Witness before Deputy Douthirt mentioned specifics of the case.

Jones admitted to speaking to the man about the legalities of his literature cart, but denied taking the cart.

“Jones admitted that Butterbean had chewed on some of the books in the cart,” Linhardt said.

The victim later identified Jones in a photo lineup.

“Deputy Douthirt reported Butterbean remains in good health, spirits and in the care of Jones,” Linhardt said.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.