Missing Tempe family had its share of problems - CBS 5 - KPHO

Missing Tempe family had its share of problems

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Daniel, left, Yafit, Melissa, Matthew and James Butwin Daniel, left, Yafit, Melissa, Matthew and James Butwin
James Butwin celebrated his 47th birthday with his children on Friday. James Butwin celebrated his 47th birthday with his children on Friday.
Melissa Butwin Melissa Butwin
Yafit Butwin graduated from Northern Arizona University. 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.

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