|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0077
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
FATHER SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE FOR TORTURING AND MURDERING DAUGHTER AND KEEPING BODY INSIDE RV FREEZER
SANTA ANA – A father was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for murdering his daughter and keeping her body in a freezer in his recreational vehicle (RV). Clarence Eugene Butterfield, 57, formerly of San Clemente, was found guilty by a jury Aug. 19, 2010, of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of torture and mayhem and one felony count of assault with a firearm.
In December 2006, Butterfield murdered his 21-year-old daughter, Rebekah Butterfield. He tortured the victim and intentionally made her suffer by repeatedly shooting her in the leg, foot, knee, side of her head, and body parts that would not cause fatal injuries. He tied his naked daughter’s ankles together and hands behind her back and stuffed her in the freezer of his RV while she was still alive. Butterfield suffocated his daughter to death in the air-tight freezer.
For two years after the murder, Butterfield lived in the RV with his daughter’s body in the freezer.
In September 2008, Butterfield was arrested on an unrelated case in Orange County for obstructing a police officer, and was sent to Nevada on an unrelated criminal warrant from that state. His RV, which was left in the alley of an acquaintance’s business, was towed.
While cleaning the RV on Oct. 28, 2008, employees from AC Towing Inc. in San Clemente, discovered a corpse stuffed into the horizontal freezer of Butterfield’s RV, which was being stored on their lot. The towing company contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Responding deputies found Butterfield’s daughter inside the freezer. The body was badly decomposed and wrapped in several layers of plastic.
The investigation revealed that Butterfield also tortured his daughter in the months leading up to the murder including stabbing her in the thigh in 2004 and shooting her in the foot several months earlier. These crimes went unreported.
Butterfield, who was still in custody in Las Vegas when his daughter’s body was discovered, was charged Oct. 30, 2008, for the murder of Rebekah Butterfield. The defendant was brought back to Orange County April 14, 2009, to face charges. He was indicted on the charges Dec. 8, 2009.
During the trial, evidence was presented that Butterfield had a history of violence against his ex-wife and had repeatedly tortured her including beating, binding, and keeping her in closets. The defendant’s son testified that he had witnessed some of the torture of his mother. Butterfield testified that he did not murder his daughter, but instead found her dead in the trailer and kept her body in the freezer because he thought no one would believe him.