(JTA) — Police have identified a Jewish family from Tempe, Ariz., the Butwins, as the subjects of a suspected murder-suicide.
Police said that James Butwin, a board member of his local synagogue, Temple Emanuel, was the primary suspect in the killing of his wife and three children. The bodies were found in a burning S.U.V. on Saturday that was registered to the Butwins but had been missing from the family home, Tempe Police said.
While authorities were working to identify the remains, the Pinal County sheriff said he believed the deaths were the work of a drug cartel, but police now believe James Butwin, 47, killed himself and wife Yafit, 40, daughter Malissa, 16, and sons Daniel, 14, and Matthew, 7, according to the Tucson Citizen.
Butwin, a businessman, was going through a divorce and had serious financial and medical problems, the paper reported.
A crisis response team from Tempe’s Jewish Family & Children’s Service was dispatched to Temple Emanuel on Wednesday, the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix reported, and professionals were also sent to the East Valley Jewish Community Center, where the youngest Butwin child was to have been a summer camper. Team members were planning to offer counseling to those attending a 7 p.m. service of grief at the Reform congregation on Wednesday.
CAPTION: The Butwin family of Tempe, Ariz., in a photo from May 2009, is believed to have been killed in a murder-suicide. (Yafit Butwin’s Facebook page)