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Neighbors grieve loss of woman

Pat Burley's body discovered in trash can after 4-day search

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Capt. Scott Peebles speaks during a media conference about Pat Burley, whose body was discovered late Wednesday night. Investigators say strangling was the likely cause of death, and Peebles said there is evidence of a sexual assault.
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Pat Burley was as much a part of her neighborhood as Laney Walker Elementary School and the United House of Prayer.

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Mary Williams talks about her friend and neighbor Patricia Burley. Burley went missing Sunday and her body was found Wednesday night less than a mile from her home.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Mary Williams talks about her friend and neighbor Patricia Burley. Burley went missing Sunday and her body was found Wednesday night less than a mile from her home.

Living with Down syndrome made her simple but sincere, and everyone who lived on her stretch of Wrightsboro Road kept an eye out for her. There was a time when no one could figure out why she was gaining weight until neighbors pieced together that she was going from house to house eating meals.

Mary Williams was one of many neighbors who watched out for Burley, so she was concerned late Sunday afternoon when she saw Burley talking with a strange man. Williams, 86, made her way inside to call the woman Burley lived with.

By the time Williams got back onto her front porch, Burley and the man were gone.

"I don't know how they could have left so quickly," Williams said Thursday.

Early Monday morning, friends, family and deputies fanned out into the neighborhood searching abandoned homes and alleys for the 54-year-old Burley. As the search stretched into Tuesday, investigators brought in a 29-year-old homeless man named Corey Smith for questioning. He was the last person seen talking to Burley and was the suspect in a trash can theft from Monday morning, Peebles said.

Late Wednesday night, a man searching for scrap metal at a vacant lot on the 600 block of Hall Street found Burley's body.

Authorities say Burley was killed in a different location, then transported to the wooded area in a trash can with wheels.

On Thursday, Smith was charged with murder.

"The area is overgrown," Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said of the vacant lot. "We flew over the area briefly yesterday, but we would not have found her without going on that specific property and searching for her."

Fingerprint and dental records still have to be checked before the body is officially declared as Burley's, but investigators say they are confident it is her.

Investigators say strangling was the likely cause of death. Peebles said there is evidence of a sexual assault.

In March 2009, Smith was arrested after he was accused of attacking his girlfriend with a socket wrench during an argument. Peebles said the couple were staying in the same abandoned building at the time.

Judge Sheryl Jolly sentenced him to one year in jail, for which he received credit for time served, and four years probation.

Burley lived within sight of the United House of Prayer, where she sang in the choir and had her own special seat. She regularly volunteered in the church's restaurant, sorting silverware and helping people carry food to tables.

Her presence was keenly missed the past couple of days. Restaurant regulars were crying Thursday as word spread that Burley was probably dead, said Assistant Pastor George Young.

"She was already missed," Young said.

Comments (60) Add comment
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SnowBallCity
2
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SnowBallCity 08/26/10 - 08:30 am
0
0
vacinity? Really?

vacinity? Really?

TrulyWorried
13314
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TrulyWorried 08/26/10 - 09:15 am
0
0
Ranter #1 And an unfortunate

Ranter #1 And an unfortunate victim - how horrible that another human had to die!

ispy4u
0
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ispy4u 08/26/10 - 09:20 am
0
0
We spent numerous hours

We spent numerous hours looking for Ms. Burley. I pray that this is not her. This lady was not a threat to anyone. Regardless of who the victim is, my thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 08/26/10 - 10:22 am
0
0
What is becoming of our city?

What is becoming of our city? Day after day we have home invasions, shootings, stabbings and now another woman has lost her life. As you said, whoever she is, she matters and her loss is a loss to us all. We have to do something to fix this city, but I have no idea what.

Riverman1
82184
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Riverman1 08/26/10 - 10:59 am
0
0
It looks like another murder

It looks like another murder in the county.

TIREMAN5
5
Points
TIREMAN5 08/26/10 - 11:10 am
0
0
We need to do as sheriff Joe

We need to do as sheriff Joe in Arizona did , build a tent city and hold this trash away from hardworking citizens, not let them out on personals and hold them untill they are sent to prison.

InChristLove
22459
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InChristLove 08/26/10 - 12:21 pm
0
0
"What is becoming of our

"What is becoming of our city?" What is becoming of our nation?

I will probably get a lot of negative and insulting remarks for this next statement but IMO it's true. We as a nation have gotten so far away from any biblical moral truth and become a nation of anything goes "because it's my right" and we wonder why our nations is going to pot. Satan is the ruler of this world and it would stand to reason that those who refuse to follow Christ commands to live a holy and righteous life, in turn follow the ways of the world and Satan's leading.....It will only continue to get worse until Christ returns and those who are children of God must remember that the battle has already been fought and we know who's victorious.

cristinadh
6
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cristinadh 08/26/10 - 12:24 pm
0
0
Actually there are some small

Actually there are some small abandoned cities.. we should refer all of the trash out that way!!

Dixieman
14369
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Dixieman 08/26/10 - 12:24 pm
0
0
Why do "Cops fear body could

Why do "Cops fear body could be Burley"? It is SOMEBODY, and whoever it is this is a sad situation.

whyme
1652
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whyme 08/26/10 - 01:08 pm
0
0
For whatever it's worth, I

For whatever it's worth, I thought Austin Rhodes made a good point recently-there was a lot of interest in picketing his office when he made an on-air remark that was felt to be unacceptable, yet why aren't the same people (black, white, Asian, Hispanic) similarly outraged at these crimes going on in our local neighborhoods? No protesting outside of the residences where a murder took place? No one demanding justice? Let's all come together and insist that crime has no place in the CSRA! When we let the criminals know that their actions will not be tolerated perhaps we will see a change in our living environment.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/26/10 - 01:12 pm
0
0
ICL, I do agree 100% We
Unpublished

ICL, I do agree 100%

We must open our eyes to whats really going on and reach out to God. Yet, Satan can only do what God allows, so IMO he is powerless.

"As much as we are working against God, He is fighting just as hard for us"

Yah Bless.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/26/10 - 01:14 pm
0
0
WHAT IS THE COMMISSIONER IN
Unpublished

WHAT IS THE COMMISSIONER IN THIS AREA DOING FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS AREA?!?!?

NOTHING.

Evans Ga 2010
0
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Evans Ga 2010 08/26/10 - 01:51 pm
0
0
This is such a horrible thing

This is such a horrible thing that has happened. If it is the lady that went missing and the police have this suspect I hope that they give him the death penalty and that good Lord will shed all the evidence needed to do so.

purmkinhed
27
Points
purmkinhed 08/26/10 - 01:55 pm
0
0
Oh he is sooooooooo gonna

Oh he is sooooooooo gonna burn in hell! Prayers and thoughts to Ms. Burley's family and friends. Just so sad, sad, sad...

chello36
0
Points
chello36 08/26/10 - 02:02 pm
0
0
Its bad enough when one

Its bad enough when one citizen harms or takes the life of another citizen but to deceive a woman with down syndrome & then take her life
is beyond heartless. This person needs to be put in jail for life or given the death penalty. She was not even able to defend herself. We all should be able to slap him hard as heck across the face!!!!

JusticeForEva
0
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JusticeForEva 08/26/10 - 02:49 pm
0
0
ICL I don't believe in the

ICL I don't believe in the bible and I still have morals.

JusticeForEva
0
Points
JusticeForEva 08/26/10 - 02:49 pm
0
0
Anyways this isn't that kind

Anyways this isn't that kind of a debate. I hope for the family's sake this isn't the missing woman but if it is my deepest condolences to the family and friends. She was a completely innocent victim :(

curly123053
4550
Points
curly123053 08/26/10 - 04:03 pm
0
0
I am praying for the family

I am praying for the family of such an innocent victim. This thug has no shame and he should never ever see the outside of a jail cell ever. This is so sad. This victim was no different than a small innocent defenseless child with her disability. ICL was 110% right in his comments !

sshelnutt
0
Points
sshelnutt 08/26/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
There is a special place in

There is a special place in hell for this scumbag! I'm praying for the family of this special woman!

dani
12
Points
dani 08/26/10 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Raped! Then strangled to

Raped! Then strangled to death.
Poor, poor lady.
Evil exists.

dani
12
Points
dani 08/26/10 - 04:33 pm
0
0
Oh yes..and good work,

Oh yes..and good work, investigators.

whatever1234
0
Points
whatever1234 08/26/10 - 04:44 pm
0
0
"a history of violence and

"a history of violence and aggravated assaults" - why in the world is someone like this walking the streets among us? It seems that it takes a murder conviction to keep any criminal in jail for any length of time. Our criminal justice system is not working - how many victims does it take before we do something about it??? I say we go back to an eye for an eye - you would not have so many repeat offenders that's for sure. Poor lady, we should be protecting her from people like him, not putting her in harm's way by placing him back out on the streets.

myparrot
18
Points
myparrot 08/26/10 - 05:10 pm
0
0
One word "castration"!

One word "castration"!

Aliyah
1
Points
Aliyah 08/26/10 - 05:25 pm
0
0
Lock him up and throw away

Lock him up and throw away the key...he already had his chance...He did not reform

scoot1973atl
0
Points
scoot1973atl 08/26/10 - 05:25 pm
0
0
To the family of the victim:

To the family of the victim: I am truly so sorry for your loss. I am sorry that evil touched Patricia's life. Keep your memories of her close at heart, and know that she is now an angel watching over others. God Bless you all.

marien
28
Points
marien 08/26/10 - 06:10 pm
0
0
I like many of the other

I like many of the other posters send my prayers to Ms. Patricia's family.

columbiacountynative
0
Points
columbiacountynative 08/26/10 - 06:51 pm
0
0
"whatever', my sentiments to

"whatever', my sentiments to the T. The scum has a history of violence and aggravated assaults, assault's' with 's'. Who was the Judge or Judges on these cases? Meanwhile this poor lady that lived with down syndrome, had the mind of a child, probably meek and mild. She enjoyed people, from what I've read. The freak 'stole' a garbage can to put the poor soul in and left her alone. The people of the community of the church and neighborhood looked for her but, the roach ties her hands and feet together and kills her. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. This poor lady deserved so much more than this slug doo. Who was the Judge? We can pray for her family and friends.

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 08/26/10 - 07:46 pm
0
0
"For whatever it's worth, I

"For whatever it's worth, I thought Austin Rhodes made a good point recently-there was a lot of interest in picketing his office when he made an on-air remark that was felt to be unacceptable, yet why aren't the same people (black, white, Asian, Hispanic) similarly outraged at these crimes going on in our local neighborhoods? No protesting outside of the residences where a murder took place? No one demanding justice? Let's all come together and insist that crime has no place in the CSRA! When we let the criminals know that their actions will not be tolerated perhaps we will see a change in our living environment."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The problem with that kind of thinking is that you are blaming the murders or whatever on a race of people. Most blacks are upstanding citizens and to blame the blacks as a whole for the actions of some is wrong. That's like blacks saying whites should get out and flog themselves on the streets because of of some white mass murderer.

Blacks have actually marched often in their neighborhoods calling attention to crime, but what more do you expect them to do? March up and down the street saying black people cause crime?

If I were black, I'd do the same thing I do as a conservative white and that's blame those who commit atrocities whether black or white without calling out the entire race for not doing enough.

For a white to say blacks don't criticize black criminals is not accurate and it is, in fact, a racist remark to say they don't.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/26/10 - 08:01 pm
0
0
ICL In ref to your 12:21 P.M.

ICL In ref to your 12:21 P.M. the same was probably writen about 2000 years ago and he ain't come back lately to stop anything. Exactly when is he returning? Maybe we need to quit worrying about his return and focus on crime and when we have a criminal on trial the jury needs to put them away for good.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/26/10 - 08:08 pm
0
0
Riverman, I hear you and

Riverman, I hear you and can't stop thinking how many people in the black community acted after the OJ trial. They need to quit focusing on the past and start looking to what the future holds. Quite frankly I hate any scum who don't care about other people, and I hate scum who protect them and try to justify their wrongs, even more.

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