The Connecticut State Police have unveiled a statue in Windsor Locks honoring the memory of a black lab who served from 1986 to 1992 in the K-9 unit.
Mattie, the world’s first laboratory-validated acceleration dog, used her nose to detect arson in over 400 cases.
“There’s several scenes that we went on with Mattie where we’d have an indication very early on that we had an incendiary fire because of her alerts,” retired Sgt. Jim Butterworth said.
Butterworth retired from the state police in 1995 -- a year after Mattie died.
“[The cases] still required a full and professional investigation to be conducted, but having the early indicators that allowed us to pursue a criminal investigation more rapidly led to quite a few arrests because we were investigating [it] as a crime right at the very beginning,” Butterworth said.
Before he was consulted on the O.J. Simpson case and the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, famed forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee worked with the Connecticut State Police. Lee said Mattie was far more accurate than a device previously used in accelerant detection called a gas chromatography sniffer.
“That always give a false positive,” Lee said. “A sewer system, leaking gas all give a positive. But Mattie can tell the differences. Also sometimes, detergent can give a false positive after burn. But Mattie can tell the differences.”
The memorial includes a black lab recreated in Mattie’s honor that looks over a walkway etched with the names of other K-9s in the explosives unit. Lee was one of the 200 donors that made the project possible.