A burned SUV found in the desert 35 miles south of Phoenix over the weekend is registered to a missing Tempe family.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office says that Tempe police contacted them late Monday to tell them about a husband and wife and their three children — ages 16, 14, and 7 — who had been missing.
A family acquaintance called police after not being able to contact the Butwin family. That person became concerned after receiving a note from James Butwin with instructions on how to operate his construction business without him.
Tempe Police arrived and discovered “suspicious and concerning evidence inside their home,” which is in the 9300 block of S. Kenneth Place, a nice neighborhood in Tempe.
The Butwins were not there and their vehicle, a Ford SUV, was missing. Police began investigating the family’s disappearance as a murder-suicide.
Turns out James and Yafit Butwin were going through a bitter divorce and were having financial difficulties. James Butwin was also struggling with a recurring brain tumor.