O.C. father gets life for murder of daughter

SANTA ANA, Calif. According to authorities, Clarence Eugene Butterfield, 57, murder his 21-year-old daughter Rebekah Butterfield in December 2006. He reportedly tortured her by shooting various parts of her body that would not cause fatal injuries.

He then tied his daughter's limbs together and stuffed her in the freezer of his RV while she was still alive. The victim suffocated to death inside the air-tight freezer.

Butterfield lived in the RV for two years following the murder, with his daughter's corpse inside still in the freezer. In September 2008, Butterfield was arrested on an unrelated case for obstructing a police officer in Orange County. He was sent to Nevada on another unrelated warrant, and his RV was towed.

While workers from the towing company were cleaning out the RV in San Clemente, they discovered a corpse stuffed into the RV's horizontal freezer. Orange County police determined the corpse was that of Butterfield's daughter. Her body was badly decomposed and wrapped repeatedly in plastic.

Upon examining the body, investigators learned that Butterfield had tortured his daughter months before he murdered her. He stabbed her in the thigh in 2004 and also shot her in the foot several months before that. These crimes were not reported.

Butterfield was charged on October 2008 for his daughter's murder. He was brought back from Las Vegas to Orange County in April 2009 and was indicted on December 2009.

During his trial, Butterfield denied killing his daughter. Instead, he claimed that he found her dead in the RV and kept her body in the freezer because he thought no one would believe his innocence. Evidence during the trial painted Butterfield as a man with a violent streak.

He apparently beat his ex-wife repeatedly, and he also had a history of torturing and binding her and stuffing her inside closets.

The victim's mother, Catherine Butterfield, submitted a written statement to the court during Wednesday's sentencing hearing.

"To the same extent that my daughter, Rebekah Butterfield, was an exceptionally good and loving person, she was tortured and murdered in an extremely terrible way by the person she loved the most, her own father. She was beautiful inside and out, but she felt the heartache of betrayal and excruciating pain both inside and out," she wrote.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.