Daniel, left, Yafit, Melissa, Matthew and James Butwin
James Butwin celebrated his 47th birthday with his children on Friday.
Yafit Butwin graduated from Northern Arizona University.
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -
On the surface, the Butwin family of Tempe seemed like the picture-perfect family. A deeper look, however, shows the family was no different than many others, experiencing financial troubles, health issues and marital discord.
The bodies of five people discovered in a burned-out SUV in Pinal County are believed to be those of the Butwins - their deaths, investigators said, were the result of a murder-suicide.
James Butwin, his wife, Yafit Butwin, and their children, Melissa, Daniel and Matthew Butwin, have been missing since the weekend.
But recently the family, specifically James Butwin, was having serious issues with money.
"I think the public record will show that there were a number of lawsuits against James and against his entities," said family attorney Bill Wilcox.
There were other issues confronting the father.
"James has been undergoing treatment for brain cancer," Wilcox said, and Yafit Butwin had recently filed for divorce.
Yafit Butwin recently posted on Facebook that she was looking for a job as an interior designer and that her soon-to-be ex-husband was having some financial issues with his real estate company.
According to the divorce filings, the couple was still living in their home together, even though Yafit Butwin accused James Butwin of being abusive and his actions caused her and the children emotional harm.
Arguments over finances made up a large part of the court records in their divorce.
The two met in Israel, but before marriage, Yafit Butwin said she was forced to come to the U.S. and sign a prenuptial agreement.
Yafit Butwin argued because she did not speak or read English well she did not know what she was signing. Therefore, the prenuptial agreement should be invalid.
James Butwin was fighting for the prenuptial agreement not to be thrown out because it required him to pay her $250 a week in support. Yafit Butwin claimed that was not enough to sustain the household.
James Butwin celebrated his 47th birthday Friday with his three children.
On Facebook, a friend wrote, "Happy Birthday !!! I wish you Health & Happy life...till 120 years. Love you my family. Good Shabat."
A day later, the burned-out shell of the family's SUV was found in the middle of the desert.
Wilcox told CBS 5 News the divorce proceedings between husband and wife were amicable.
"These folks were able to come to at least temporary agreements on pretty much all the issues," Wilcox said.
CBS 5 News learned that Yafit Butwin graduated from Northern Arizona University about a year ago. Recently, the family celebrated Daniel's eighth-grade graduation. Melissa recently attended her school prom in May.
Neighbors, CBS 5 News was told, knew the family well.
"I know that the wife liked to walk with some of the neighbors, and I saw the father playing catch with his kids," said neighbor Jourdan Gilson.
And the couple had "nesting arrangements," which means they both lived at the family's home, even though they were officially going through a divorce.
Yafit Butwin listed her marital status as separated on Facebook.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:43 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:43:10 GMT
Saturday night's Powerball drawing
Two $1 million Powerball second-prize winning tickets were sold in Arizona from Saturday night's record-breaking jackpot. The winning tickets, which matched five out of five numbers drawn, not includingMore >
A Phoenix woman has come forward to collect her $1 million Powerball prize and says she's planning to go on a family vacation and invest the rest of her winnings.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:07 PM EDT2013-05-22 03:07:04 GMT
Kirk Nurmi (Source: CBS 5 News)
Jodi Arias' attorney Kirk Nurmi has asked to withdraw from the case on two occasions. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisor's meeting on Wednesday is expected to include a vote to approve $200,000 beMore >
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisor's meeting on Wednesday is expected to include a vote to approve $200,000 be moved to help pay for defense attorney Kirk Nurmi's salary.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:20 PM EDT2013-05-21 21:20:54 GMT
Amy's Baking Company
Amy's Baking Company said legal and online threats have forced it to cancel a press conference Tuesday, but that it's grand reopening will take place as planned. Owners of the Scottsdale bakery, Amy andMore >
Owners of the Scottsdale bakery decided to pull the plug on a 1 p.m. news briefing Tuesday after getting a letter from a litigation law firm representing a company that produces the TV show Kitchen Nightmares. More >
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department. More >
An Oregon girl abducted as a baby and missing for 18 years finally emerged in Dallas this week when her mother turned herself in to authorities, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department.More >