Victim's mother: 'It's been brewing for a while'

July 30, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

MERCERSBURG, PA. - Shelby Carbaugh and her family were heading home Friday night after eating dinner when they saw an ambulance on Garnes Road.

"We decided to follow it, and it went right to my daughter Cathy Burkett's house," she said.

Only then did she learn that her daughter was dead from multiple gunshot wounds, allegedly inflicted by her estranged husband, Curtis Burkett.

Burkett, 41, is wanted by Pennsylvania State Police for that fatal shooting at 10601 Garnes Road, as well as the shooting death of William Zimmerman, who police believe was shot first in the violent episode that occurred Friday between 7:30 and 8:10 p.m. Zimmerman was shot at Longview Campgrounds miles away.

"It's been brewing for a while," said the tearful mother as she sat on the porch of her home at 10464 Garnes Road, just a few hundred yards from the scene where her daughter was slain.


Shelby Carbaugh was surrounded by family and friends on that porch Saturday at midday as they gathered to try to come to terms with what had happened the night before.

Cathy's sister, Candy Burkett, is married to the suspect's brother.

"Curtis' mother is also my mother-in-law - she is at my house next door, crying her eyes out," Candy Burkett said.

Candy also was crying, but hers were angry tears.

"There are charges against Curtis from beating her up last weekend," Candy Burkett said.

According to Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson, Curtis Burkett was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday on a charge of simple assault on his estranged wife.

That assault allegedly took place within the past week, Nelson said.

Shelby Carbaugh said her daughter had sought medical treatment earlier on Friday for the injuries she sustained in that assault.

"She had bruises on her arms and her side, and marks on her face," Shelby Carbaugh said.

Curtis Burkett also was scheduled to be in court Wednesday for an indirect criminal contempt hearing for allegedly violating the terms of a protection order his estranged wife had taken out on him, Nelson said.

Cathy still was living at the 10601 Garnes Road home with the couple's two sons, Matthew, 18, and Charles, 16, neither of whom was home Friday night.

Both boys were on their grandmother's porch Saturday, trying to deal with the loss of their mother, as well as the reality of their father being charged with not one, but two fatal shootings.

Charles said he was at the movies Friday night when he learned of the shootings. He said the police told him not to go home, so he stayed with a friend for a while.

As Cathy's father, Preston Carbaugh, paced his porch and somberly greeted well-wishers who came and went, Shelby talked of how close the family is - Cathy and Candy and their brothers, Gary Bierd and Robert Carbaugh.

"We are all close except for Curtis," Shelby said. "The last time I saw Curtis was on June 20 - he doesn't talk to us."

Shelby Carbaugh said Curtis Burkett worked at Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa. Cathy Burkett recently quit her job.

Miles away at the Longview Campgrounds, where Zimmerman was found shot in front of a friend's trailer Friday night, the owner of the business also was trying to come to terms with her feelings Saturday.

"I heard the shot around 7:30 p.m., and I called 911," said Jenni DiGiorgi, who said she has owned the campground with 100 RV hookups and several tent facilities for 2 1/2 years.

DiGiorgi, whose home is on a hill overlooking the trailer where the shooting occurred, said Zimmerman had been a resident for about a year.

"Curtis Burkett was just here for the season," she said, noting that she spoke with him earlier Friday night. "There was no inkling of trouble then."

DiGiorgi said it wasn't unusual to see Zimmerman, both Curtis and Cathy Burkett, and others at the campgrounds outside socializing on occasion.

"We're one big family here," she said.

DiGiorgi emphasized that Longview is a nice, quiet campground.

"We've never had trouble like this before," she said.

Saturday morning, DiGiorgi made her normal rounds of the campsites to talk with the other residents about the shooting.

"I contacted a minister who could offer support to anyone needing it," she said.

A service to honor Zimmerman also was on her mind as she went about her duties at the campground.

The Herald-Mail Articles