Paul Babeu or Tempe Police: Whose Story Are You Buyin'?

It seems Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's not ready to give up on his theories for what happened to the five people killed in the Vekol Valley over the weekend, as the Tempe Police Department has declared it as a murder/suicide.

Babeu initially declared that "[a]ll information is pointing that this is connected to the violent drug cartel," while his office issued a two-page press release this week (which you can read here) detailing its facts and theories, mentioning Tempe's missing Butwin family only in passing.

While justifying the belief that it's still a cartel, PCSO says masked footprints were found at the scene, notes that it's a big drug-smuggling area, and also references an anonymous federal immigration official who spoke to a newspaper outside the state.

PCSO's other theory includes an "individual who asked to remain anonymous" who told the cops his brother-in-law had told him the night before that he was going to the Vekol Valley to make money.

The Sheriff's Office says the man didn't know exactly what his brother-in-law was doing, but he "knows [it's] illegal."

"PCSO knows the names of the family members involved including those who are missing, but we've been asked to withhold as the family fears possible retaliation from the drug cartel," the release says.

The release also included three sentences about the Tempe family, with one of those sentences directing any media questions to the Tempe Police Department.

Tempe Police Sergeant Jeffrey Glover says that burned car in Vekol Valley belonged to a Tempe family of five that's been missing.

Glover didn't give up too much information, saying detectives are "not comfortable" releasing details of the "strange" and "peculiar" things found in the Butwins' Tempe home.

A family acquaintance called Tempe police over the weekend, asking them to check in on the Butwins after receiving a letter with instructions on how to run James Butwin's business.

There was evidence of a struggle at the home, Glover said, but he didn't get into specifics. Glover also noted that there was either a separation or a pending divorce between the Butwins.

The family's SUV was spotted by a Border Patrol agent early Saturday morning, about 4:30 a.m. The agent went after the SUV, but couldn't catch up.

About four hours later, the vehicle was found torched, with five charred bodies inside. Four of the people were in the rear compartment of the vehicle, while one person was in the second-row seat.

Glover says investigators believe the Butwins are dead -- although the medical examiner hasn't been able to identify the bodies -- and police aren't seeking any suspects in their deaths.

That said, whose story are you buyin'?

Cast your vote below:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley