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Clarence Eugene Butterfield, 57, formerly of San Clemente, was sentenced Wednesday 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.
He 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 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, Butterfield lived in the RV in and around the Dana Point/Capistrano Beach area 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 Capistrano Beach 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 stored on their lot. Sheriff’s deputies found Butterfield’s decomposed daughter wrapped in plastic inside the freezer.
The victim’s mother and uncle submitted written statements to the court for the sentencing. “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,” Catherine Butterfield, the victim’s mother, wrote. “She was beautiful inside and out, but she felt the heartache of betrayal and excruciating pain both inside and out.”