Tempe Police Pretty Sure Bodies in Vekol Valley Are From Murder/Suicide, Despite Paul Babeu's Blame-the-Mexicans Announcement

Tempe police detectives are pretty sure the family of James and Yafit Butwin was killed in a murder/suicide, not "connected to the violent drug cartel," as Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu suggests.

The five charred, still-unidentified bodies were found in an SUV in the Vekol Valley this weekend, and the embattled sheriff was trying to score political points out of it.

"The border is NOT more secure than ever Ms. Napolitano!" Babeu gloated on Facebook, while repeating lines to media outlets about the supposed "cartel hit."

Well, Tempe Police Sergeant Jeffrey Glover said yesterday that there's no evidence the Butwins were involved with drugs, cartels, "or anything like that."

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.

Meanwhile, the white Ford SUV found smoldering in the Vekol Valley was registered at the Butwins' Tempe home.

That 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.

Counting up James Butwin, Yafit Butwin, and their three children, that's five.

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.

Then there's Babeu, who has a tendency to avoid the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Babeu's spokesman put out a press release earlier yesterday acknowledging that this Tempe investigation exists, but spent nearly the rest of the press release focusing on alternate theories. Babeu's forces still are trying to justify Babeu's running his mouth about cartels.

"The area had several shoe prints and also 'sleepy feet' (shoes made of carpet remnants or burlap by smugglers to hide their footprints)," the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office said a call came in from an "individual who asked to remain anonymous," saying the following:

The individual reported that he feared his brother-in-law was among the dead. The brother-in-law had told him the night before that he was "going to Vekol Valley to make money." The brother-in-law had left to Vekol Valley with four other acquaintances. Homicide detectives asked the reporting party if his brother-in-law was involved in drug or human smuggling and he said he didn't get involved in his business but he "knows its illegal." The reporting party said that when he tries to call his brother-in-law or his friends on their cell phones they go straight to voicemail.

On Sunday, a homicide detective again spoke with the reporting party who told us he still has been not able to get in touch with his brother-in-law or his acquaintances. The five men were last seen driving in a Ford SUV. Homicide detectives are also not able to locate the brother-in-law either. 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 press release from Babeu's office also points to an anonymous Border Patrol official who spoke to the "Boston Herald and other news entities."

"My guess, he's an illegal, maybe a Zetas cartel member and he was doing a hit for the Zetas," this source supposedly said.

There are still a few more things that need to be released before the public finds out what actually happened, but just about no one would be surprised if Babeu was making stuff up about what goes on in Vekol Valley.

It wouldn't be the first, second, third, or fourth time that's happened.

Still, Babeu's blind faithful seem to love it:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley