Can a brain tumor be the blame for a tragic murder-suicide of an Arizona family or is it another case of extreme domestic violence? Authorities will probably never know the answer to these questions.
Last week, a burned out SUV was found in the desert in Pinal County, Arizona, in an area that is used frequently for the smuggling of illegal aliens and drugs. The case was in the national news at first as Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed the bodies were related to Mexican drug trafficking and then used the case to criticize border security actions of the present federal administration. Authorities were later able to confirm the bodies were that of James Butwin, his wife Yafit, and their three children Malissa, Daniel, and Matthew.
Although authorities have found evidence in the Butwin’s home that leads them to believe it could be a murder-suicide, friends of the family cannot believe that James Butwin would do something so horrible as this crime unless his brain tumor led him to kill his family. Butwin was described by friends as “one of the nicest guys.” One 15-year-old friend of Daniel’s stated that “the whole thing had to be his illness.” A neighbor also stated that the Butwins were “an amazing family with so much heart.”
Even if James Butwin was one of the nicest guys, he still could have snapped under the strain of going through a divorce and battling a brain tumor at the same time. Butwin had been asked to move out of his house, but refused to do so and continued to live there until the family’s end. Even “an amazing family with so much heart” has major issues that can erupt in violence.
On Wednesday of last week, a Jewish grief service was held at Temple Emanuel and more than 600 mourners participated in the service. Funerals for the members of the Butwin family will be held at a later date.