Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Tragic Jewish family died in blazing wreck after 'murder-suicide'
An SUV found burning in the desert with five bodies inside was registered to the home of a missing family of five, three of whom were children, police in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe said Tuesday.
An acquaintance of the Butwin family told police on Monday that he was concerned about them after receiving a note from James Butwin with instructions on how to operate his construction business without him, leading the friend to fear that something may have happened to Mr Butwin.
Investigators went to the Butwin home and found 'suspicious and concerning' evidence, but not the Butwins, and began treating the case as a murder-suicide.
The family's white Ford Expedition also was gone.
Tempe police sergeant Jeff Glover declined to specify what the evidence was but said no murder weapon was found in the home.
He said that although they can't be entirely certain that the Butwins are the same five people found in the burning SUV, investigators are so sure that they're dead that they aren't looking for them and believe there are no outstanding suspects.
Mr Glover said that James and his wife Yafit Butwin were experiencing financial difficulties, and court records show that Yafit filed for divorce in September and that the process was ongoing.
The eldest child was a daughter, 16-year-old Melissa, who was followed by 14-year-old Daniel and 7-year-old Matthew.
He said the bodies could have included older children but not younger ones.
He said the office will have to use dental records to try to confirm the identities of the bodies.
'He honks and waves at me every time he drives by,' he said.
'From what we know them to be, this is totally unexpected to the point of almost being unbelievable,' Mr Kempton said.