Charges Filed After Body Found in Abandoned Motor Home Freezer

TEMECULA, Calif. -- Charges were filed Thursday against a missing 21-year-old Temecula woman's father, whose motor home in San Clemente was found to contain a badly decomposed female body inside a freezer, according to Orange County prosecutors.

Clarence Butterfield, 55, is under arrest in Nevada, and on Thursday appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom on a charge of resisting arrest, said Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh, who added that he was filing a murder charge against the father.

The identity of the body in the freezer, which was wrapped in sheets of plastic, has not been established, but the man's daughter, Rebekah Butterfield, was reported missing in June, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The woman's mother, who lives on the East Coast, said she had not seen her daughter for about two years when she filed the report with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Amormino said that weeks ago, sheriff's deputies pulled over Butterfield's pickup truck in "a routine traffic stop" in Dana Point and arrested him when they discovered he was named in a warrant issued in Las Vegas.

The warrant cites resisting arrest and interfering with a police officer, Amormino said, adding that Butterfield was returned to Nevada a short time after his Dana Point arrest.

Amormino told reporters that Butterfield "has an extensive arrest record for violence."

With Butterfield out-of-state and facing charges, the owner of the Capistrano Beach property where the motor home was parked called a private towing company on Oct. 1 and arranged to have the vehicle taken to a yard in San Clemente, Amormino said.

The body was discovered in the freezer of the motor home on Tuesday night, as towing company employees were going through it, Amormino said.

"He did live in the motor home, which was registered to him for several months," Amormino told reporters. "It was parked on some private property in the Capistrano Beach area of Dana Point. There was an electrical outlet, so while he lived in that motor home it did have electrical power. Of course, once it was towed on Oct. 1, then it had no electrical power so the body basically thawed out," Amormino said.

"We're not sure exactly how she died, but there's some evidence that I can't get into at this stage of the investigation, but we will be seeking murder charges against Mr. Butterfield," Amormino said.

Jay Rivera, a public information officer for the Las Vegas police, said investigators in Orange County asked his department not to release any information about Butterfield, including details about the charges he faces there.

"We don't want to release information that may affect the case in any way," Rivera said.

An autopsy on the body Wednesday failed to indicate how the victim died or establish an identity, which may be done with the use of DNA testing or through dental charts, Amormino said.

He said investigators in Las Vegas interviewed Butterfield on Wednesday night about the discovery of the body.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 714-647-7055.

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