Feuding St. Charles Neighbors Get the Dr. Phil Treatment


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Hey, remember that story about feuding neighbors in St. Charles that seemed right out of an episode of Dr. Phil? Well, it's going to be an episode of Dr. Phil. (Or, at least it might be — let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.)

Next week, the show is taping interviews with Maritha Hunter-Butler and one of her neighbors in the Manors at Glen Brook, a pleasant-looking neighborhood of wide lawns and large houses. But for the past few months, the subdivision has been host to a messy dispute over barking dogs, racism and homophobia, as well as an alleged assault and sexual misconduct related to mooning. 

Hunter-Butler and her family moved into the subdivision in May. The problems started almost immediately. Her neighbors complained about her dogs barking late at night, and someone made an anonymous complaint to police about Hunter-Butler's sons — the caller told the dispatcher that "this is an all-white neighborhood and they do not belong."

As we reported back in August, Hunter-Butler claims the problem stems from the largely white community's intolerance of a black family moving next-door, not to mention the fact that Hunter-Butler is in an interracial lesbian relationship with her white partner. The neighbors, on the other hand, say Hunter-Butler doesn't take care of her dogs and has only herself to blame for escalating the conflict. One of the neighbors, Rebecca Scudder, accused Hunter-Butler of punching her in the face on July 1, and the case is pending in court. 

The alleged assault was followed by an even more bizarre incident in October. Scudder's husband, Jim, told police that Hunter-Bulter's partner, Melanie Anthony, performed a "full moon" in view of her neighbors. Jim Scudder's complaint resulted in Anthony being charged for misdemeanor sexual misconduct. According the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the probable cause statement filed by police states that on October 20 Anthony "knowingly knew children were present and could see her act, in which she exposed her bare vaginal (sic) and buttocks in a vulgar and public manner." 

Anthony denies having exposed herself to the Scudders. She says that she only found out about the criminal charge from a Post-Dispatch reporter and that she was at a job interview during the time of the alleged mooning. 

As for Hunter-Butler, she maintains her own innocence on the assault charge and says her attorneys are gathering evidence for her defense. (Incidentally, Hunter-Butler was sentenced in 2005 to six years in prison for attempting to murder her ex-husband. She was released after less than three years. That criminal history factors into the current feud, as her neighbors say they are worried about living next to a convicted felon. ) 

Hunter-Bulter tells Riverfront Times that she was contacted by Dr. Phil producers, who'd read local news coverage about the dispute. Another set of neighbors, the Chamblees, will be joining her for the taping. In August, Jana Chamblee told the Post-Dispatch that she was "scared to let my children in the backyard" because one of Hunter-Bulter's sons supposedly tried to set off an explosive device there, an accusation the son denies.  

We should note that a taping does not guarantee that the Dr. Phil episode will actually run on TV. A media supervisor for the show characterizes the taping a preliminary step.

But come on, Dr. Phil, this is right in your platitude-filled wheelhouse. You've got interpersonal squabbles, accusations of racism, criminal charges and mooning, for goodness sake! If this doesn't make for good TV, we're positively stumped as to what would.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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