Circumstances of Death
Special Agent William Butler and U.S. Customs Inspector L. A. Highsmith were traveling in a government automobile from Wilmington to Raleigh, NC, on official business. As they approached the south end of Black Lake Bridge, on Highway 301, just south of Smithfield, NC, the steering mechanism on their car failed and the car struck an abutment wall. Both Agent Butler and Inspector Highsmith were killed instantly.
Agent Butler joined the Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU) on July 9, 1934. Agent Butler previously served as a Prohibition Agent in the Bureau of Prohibition, Department of Justice; however, no further information could be found regarding that service.