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State police take search for suspect into Fulton County

August 01, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The search for a man believed to be armed with a long rifle took Pennsylvania State Police into Fulton County, Pa., on Monday.

Police received fewer tips from the public on the third full day of searching, but troopers continued to investigate those they received for the whereabouts of Curtis Burkett, according to Cpl. R. Marshall.

"We had a couple gunshots (Sunday) that we checked out as a precaution," Marshall said. Those were reported south of Mercersburg, Pa., where the search had been concentrated, he said.

They proved to be unrelated and not serious, police said.

Helicopters have been used in the search and were requested for today's work, Marshall said.

"Most of it's by patrol vehicle now. We have done some foot patrols," he said.

Marshall acknowledged that Burkett, accused of killing his estranged wife and an acquaintance, could be out of the state, but said he has been entered into a computer system.

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"Somewhere, sometime, he has to show up," Marshall said.

Residents of Garnes Road, where the body of Cathy Burkett was found in her home around 8 p.m. Friday, were divided Monday about whether they thought the suspect would return there.

"It's pretty quiet over here. Everybody keeps to themselves," said Robert Blankley of 9370 Garnes Road.

A neighbor said she's double-checking the locks on doors and keeping her eyes open for things that seem out of place like an open shed door. Another couple said they are not worried about Curtis Burkett's return.

The mood at Longview Campgrounds where William "Bill" Zimmerman was shot remained somber, owner Jenni DiGiorgi said.

Larry Jodoin, a friend of Zimmerman and his family, described the mood as more fearful than somber.

"It's a situation where there are a lot of victims," Jodoin said, saying there were several witnesses to Zimmerman's shooting.

Four or five campers remain occupied on weekdays, DiGiorgi said. The remainder of the 70 seasonal campers are used on weekends, she said.

"Everybody I've talked to is very supportive and not threatened by the scenario. It's more just (questioning) why and supporting each other," DiGiorgi said.

She had a local pastor talk to the campground community Saturday and said he plans to return.

Curtis Burkett had been staying at the campground for several months, DiGiorgi said. She said she told campers to speak to Burkett while facing him, since he has profound hearing loss.

"Anyone who stayed here knew Mr. Burkett. ... Nobody expected this," DiGiorgi said.

She and Jodoin talked outside her home about the personalities of Zimmerman and Curtis Burkett.

"They were both good guys. This is not an issue of good guy/bad guy," DiGiorgi said.

Jodoin said he and Zimmerman's family have been mourning the loss of a man who "was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back." The pair grew close at the campground, where he said visitors swim, make s'mores and talk around a fire.

"This place is really wonderful," Jodoin said.

Curtis Burkett was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt and blue jeans. He is 6 feet tall and approximately 230 pounds with shoulder-length brown hair and possibly a goatee. He was last seen driving a camouflaged 1980s Ford F150.

Anyone with information can call state police at 717-264-5161 or Franklin County (Pa.) Crime Solvers 717-263-3000.

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