Lutra Winslow

born: 01 September 1901
Logansport, Indiana,
United States of America
died: 07 May 1940
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(killed in murder-suicide, age 38)

Black American actress and minister. Although most sources spell her name (which was actually her middle name) "Lutra" with one "t," the natural spelling was "Luttra," with two "t's." She was the youngest of eight children born to Sarah (Ferguson) and Elwood Winslow, both of whom died in Luttra's youth. She left her hometown of Logansport, Indiana around 1923 (per a 1932 article) and moved to California.
She was married three times. Her first marriage was in 1918, at age 16, to Sam Lee Hill (1890-1977), a molder in a radiator shop, in Logansport; they divorced between 1920 and 1926. During the latter year, she wed 46-year old waiter Hughy Stovall in San Joaquin, California; both were residing in Los Angeles at the time, and the union ended shortly thereafter. Her third husband was Charles Butler (1883-1951), film casting director for the Black division of Central Casting, whom she married in 1929 in Los Angeles; by 1940, the couple had separated.
In 1933, Sara L. Butler (Luttra) became an ordained minister; awarded the title of Bishop, she formed her own successful church, the Zion Temple Community Church, located at 1315 E. Vernon Ave. in Los Angeles. One of the active members of the church's administration was Caldwell H. Jones, a real-estate broker and California Eagle columnist who served as church deacon and treasurer.
On the afternoon of 7 May 1940, Jones visited Bishop Butler at the church building, and they went to her upstairs apartment at the parsonage. What exactly transpired upstairs remains a mystery, though it was reported that the state of the room indicated a quarrel and a possible scuffle between the two. What is known, however, is that Jones pulled out a .32-caliber Colt automatic handgun and fatally shot Sara three times before turning the gun on himself. The church's caretaker heard the four shots from outside and called the police, who broke down the locked door to discover the two bodies.
It was heavily rumored that Sara and Jones had a love affair, or that Jones had been infatuated with Sara and she spurned his advances. The coroner's register on the case even gave "love affair" as the probable cause behind the tragedy. However, the Zion Temple Church's Board of Directors issued a statement to the Black newspapers that denied such scuttlebutt, claiming that Jones was "of unsound mind" and "had been pronounced a mental case," and that they had previously asked for his resignation from the church administration owing to his instability.
Bishop Butler's funeral service attracted a packed house at the Zion Temple Church, with hundreds more outside the building, of an estimated 7,000 mourners. She was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles. The Zion Temple Community Church still stands to this day, in the same 1315 E. Vernon Ave. location.
Note about her year of birth: 1901 is suggested by the 1910 Census (she is 8 years old, and it was taken before her September birthday), and is also given on her 1918 marriage record. Her headstone at Evergreen Cemetery gives her year of birth as 1903. Going by her death certificate, Charles Butler did not know his wife's date of birth, but it states she was "about" 38 years old.
Real name: Sarah Luttra Winslow
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.


A Lad An' A Lamp
Cook's girlfriend

(click image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: (1910 Census) (1918 marriage) (1918 marriage) (1918 marriage) (1920 Census) (1926 marriage) (1929 marriage) (1930 Census) (1940 Census -- solo) (1940 Census -- with Charles) (CA Death Index) (death certificate) (cemetery file card index) (Find a Grave) ( (Logansport Pharos-Tribune, 12 Apr 1932) (Logansport Pharos-Tribune, 09 Dec 1977) (Central Casting website article on Charles Butler) (Robert Demoss/The Lucky Corner)
Jesse Brisson (bio notes and research)

This page was last updated on: 21 December 2023