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Estranged husband wanted in homicides

July 30, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART and DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The man wanted in Friday night's double homicide in Franklin County is the estranged husband of the female victim - shot multiple times at her Garnes Road home, Pennsylvania State Police said.

The second victim, who was shot some distance away at a rural campground, was an acquaintance of both the suspect and the female victim, according to Jenni DiGiorgi, the owner of Longview Campgrounds on Robinson Road.

Curtis Burkett, 41, who also had been living at the campgrounds in recent months, still was at large Saturday night, police said.

Police have filed two criminal homicide counts against Curtis Burkett in Franklin County through the office of Magistrate Duane Cunningham.

Cathy Burkett, 39, was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in her home at 10601 Garnes Road, police said.

William Zimmerman, 50, of 7570 Robinson Road, was shot once outside his trailer at the campgrounds, police said.

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Both were pronounced dead at the two different locations by the Franklin County Coroner's office, police said.

A man, who declined to be identified and also is a resident of the campgrounds, said it was his uncle who was shot at Longview. He said he last saw his uncle about 20 minutes before the shooting occurred.

The man also said his uncle knew the man who allegedly shot him.

No one else was injured at the campgrounds, according to the man.

The shootings were believed to have occurred Friday between 7:30 and 8:10 p.m., police said.

By 8:30 p.m., all police in the area were alerted to be on the lookout for a vehicle coming from the scenes of the two homicides.

Saturday morning, police cruisers were seen coming and going from both crime scenes. They also were evident in the area as the search for Curtis Burkett continued.

The suspect is described as a white man weighing 230 pounds, with brown shoulder-length hair and a goatee. He last was seen wearing blue jeans and an orange T-shirt, police said.

His truck is a camouflage-colored 1986 Ford F-150 pickup, police 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 Cathy Burkett.

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

A press conference is planned for today at 11 a.m. at the Pennsylvania State Police barrack in Chambersburg, Pa., to update the information on the incidents and the status of the search for the suspect.

The last criminal homicide in Franklin County was in November 2004.

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