Butler woman shot in face by masked intruder

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com
A shooting early Sunday morning sent a Butler mother of two to Johnson City Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the face, according to Carter County Sheriff John Henson.
Kathy Reece, 30, 474 Whaleytown Road, was found sitting on the couch in the living room of the residence with an apparent gunshot wound to the mouth.
According to Henson, who was first to arrive on the scene around 1 a.m., Reece appeared to have been shot at close range with either a .38- or a .357-caliber handgun. The bullet exited the side of her jaw.
"The lady had lost a lot of blood, but she was still conscious and trying to talk," when officers arrived. "We did what we could for her until the squad got there," the sheriff said.
The victim's two children were in the residence at the time of the shooting, one of them asleep on the couch.
Capt. George Skeans, Deputy Kevin Cable, Deputy Al Meehan, Constable Harvey Shaffer and Lt. Mike Fraley also responded to the shooting. Reece was transported to Hampton High School by Carter County Rescue Squad and then flown from there by Wings Air Rescue to Johnson City Medical Center.
"When I arrived on the scene the little girl was on the phone with 911, talking to them, and very hysterical," the sheriff said. "From what little we could find out, according to the girl, the father -- Lester Reece -- had left the residence going to Hampton. And then about five minutes after he left, someone comes in and shoots the momma," the sheriff said. The subject then left on foot.
Kathy Reece appeared to have been sitting at the computer, located just inside the front door of the mobile home when she was shot. "She's in bad shape," Henson said. A condition report from the medical center was unavailable.
The intruder reportedly was wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt and a black ski mask, Henson said. "But nothing was stolen. He just runs in the house, shoots her, back out and gone -- not five to 10 minutes after Lester left in a red Ford Mustang. That's not adding up.
"At this time we're still investigating the matter," the sheriff said. "No arrests have been made."
Henson said he did not yet know whether the shooting might have resulted from a domestic dispute. "The woman couldn't talk too much, but the little girl was saying no. Of course, the kid, you can't really go by -- the shape that she was in -- and get a real good statement. We're going to wait until everybody settles down and try to get a good statement from them and then take it from there," he said.
As of early Sunday afternoon Lester Reece still had not been located. "He was supposed to be en route to his brother's place in Hampton, but he never did make it down there. We checked several times during the night and never did make any contact with him," the sheriff said.
"We've got some real good leads on the suspect. After we get to talk to everybody, I believe we can make an arrest," Henson said.