Vekol Valley Bodies ID'd as Tempe Residents; Bullet Casings and Blood Found Inside Home

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's claims that a "violent drug cartel" murdered five people in the Vekol Valley are looking more outlandish and unfounded by the hour.

Two of the five charred bodies found inside a burned SUV have been identified by the Pima County medical examiner as James and Yafit Butwin, Tempe Police Sergeant Jeffrey Glover says.

Police expect that the other three bodies will be identified as their three children, based on what was found in their Tempe home, as well as their destroyed SUV in the Vekol Valley.

Glover says blood and bullet casings were found in multiple rooms of the home, although there's no definitive answer as to where each of the family members died.

Two guns were found in the Butwins' SUV, matching the caliber of the bullet casings found in the home.

In that SUV, four of the bodies were found in the rear compartment, and one adult body was found in the backseat.

Two "suicide" notes from James Butwin exist, Glover says, although neither of them mentioned slaughtering his whole family before killing himself and lighting their SUV on fire in the middle of the desert.

Still, Glover says the notes are consistent with the murder/suicide investigation.

One of James Butwin's business partners called Tempe police over the weekend, asking them to check in on the Butwins after James Butwin mailed a letter to him with instructions on how to run the business.

Police still haven't been too specific about it, but it was enough to cause concern with the business partner.

The other note, which Glover referred to as "more specific," was left by James Butwin in his office. It wasn't really addressed to anyone, but Glover says it looks like it was meant for other family members.

Asked whether police were sure a "violent drug cartel" had absolutely nothing to do with this, Glover said that theory was "ruled out on our end."

The other three bodies, presumably the Butwin's children -- ages 7, 14, and 16 -- are expected to be identified by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in Pinal County, the Sheriff's Office hasn't changed its stance since Tuesday.

After Babeu said it looked like the "violent drug cartel," and tried to score political points by blaming Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Sheriff's Office issued a lengthy press release detailing its theories.

"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 a guy thought his brother-in-law might be among the dead because he said he was "going to Vekol Valley to make money."

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.

Then, there was one paragraph about the Tempe case, summing it up with, "Any additional requests for information regarding the details of this investigation will need to be directed to the Tempe Police Department."


Paul Babeu Claims He Made "No Conclusions" in Case of Bodies Found in Vekol Valley

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

Paul Babeu Jumps to Apparently Wrong Conclusion: Tempe Cops Say Five Burned Bodies in Vekol Valley Resulted from Murder-Suicide, Not Drug-Cartel Activity

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley