Campground owner relieved manhunt for Burkett is over

Campground owner relieved manhunt for Burkett is over

August 26, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The owner of a campground where a man was fatally shot last month expressed relief on Friday that "the final chapter" had come in the large-scale manhunt for his killer.

The body of Curtis E. Burkett and his truck were found Thursday morning nestled between a field and row of trees off Mt. Pleasant Road in Montgomery Township, approximately a half-mile from Longview Campground, where William Ray Zimmerman, 50, was killed July 28. Curtis Burkett's estranged wife, 39-year-old Cathy Burkett, was shot to death in her Garnes Road home the same day as Zimmerman.

"It wasn't going to get back to normal, per se, until he was found," said Jenni DiGiorgi, the owner of Longview Campground on Robinson Road. "There was still a shadow of a doubt (about) where he was, what he was doing."

When contacted by telephone Friday, Cathy Burkett's mother said relatives are looking to move forward, and much of the family had left on a preplanned beach vacation.


Chester Martin was working in his cornfield Thursday at 11 a.m. when he spotted Curtis Burkett's camouflaged 1980s Ford pickup truck, and found the man's body and .30-30 hunting rifle outside of it. The scene was about a quarter-mile from the road.

Pennsylvania State Police said they had searched the area during the investigation.

"I'm not sure if it would have been accessible by patrol car, but it was searched by helicopter," Cpl. J. Snyder said.

No confirmed sightings of Burkett came from the three-state manhunt, police said.

In it, rumors circulated that Curtis Burkett, an employee of Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa., had maintained a "hit list." Snyder said he was not aware of a list being found nor a suicide note.

"A lot" of beer cans were in the back of the truck, Martin said.

Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said he did not perform toxicology tests before releasing the badly decomposed body to family.

Police said Friday that laboratory, ballistic and forensic tests results for the Burketts and Zimmerman still are pending. Those are being conducted to match shell casings from the victims to the weapon found with Curtis Burkett, Snyder said.

Curtis Burkett's family will receive friends Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lininger-Fries Funeral Home in Mercersburg.

Campers have expressed remorse for Curtis Burkett's family, but also are relieved the situation has ended, DiGiorgi said.

"They are so glad they don't have to think twice that they have to look over their shoulders," she said, adding that none of the campers seemed to have any significant reservations or fears since the shooting.

Now, it's "time to take a deep breath," DiGiorgi said.

"The wondering is over," she said.

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