Tonawanda News

Local News

February 9, 2012

Body of missing woman found

NIAGARA FALLS — Niagara Falls Police say the body of a woman found in dense brush in a field off of 102nd Street is that of 67-year-old Judith Burr.

Burr had been missing since Friday, when she disappeared from her Love Canal neighborhood home.

A group of more than 200 volunteers had assembled in the area Wednesday morning to search for Burr. About five minutes into the search, centering on the fields around 102nd Street and Colvin Boulevard, her body was discovered.

Falls police Detective Lt. Michael Trane said Burr was completely clothed and there were no immediate signs of foul play on the body. Crime Scene Unit investigators quickly cordoned off the scene and began gathering evidence.

Trane said an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause of death. Police said they consider the death suspicious.

“She was found within minutes, maybe about five minutes into it,” Trane said of the search. “Right now, we have no idea at all what could have caused this. There’s no obvious, outward signs of trauma. She was completely clothed. She was just laying there.”

Burr was reported missing late Friday by her husband, Bud. He told police he last saw his wife when he left their 96th Street home at 12:30 p.m. to go to work.

Her husband said Burr was watching television when he left. When he returned home from work, after 10 p.m., the husband said his wife was not home.

He also told investigators that he had tried to call his wife about 4:30 p.m. and she did not answer the phone.

The husband said he called family members, friends and local hospitals to see if anyone had seen Burr before contacting police.

Burr’s car was discovered a short time after the call to police, parked with the doors locked at a nearby senior citizen center. Police said Burr’s purse, containing her wallet, cash, cell phone, identification and personal items, was inside the car.

The keys for the vehicle were found inside.

A search of the senior center and Love Canal area Friday, by police, Falls firefighters, local police K-9 units and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, turned up no trace of Burr. One K-9 was able to briefly track Burr for a few blocks before circling back to her home.

Trane said her body was discovered today by Bruce Reynolds, an off-duty Falls fireman.

Family members, neighbors and friends organized Wednesday’s search, which included public safety and public works personnel from the Falls and surrounding communities.

Sue Elvers, one of Burr’s cousins, described how the search ended.

“They started screaming stop and told us to turn around and head back to the road,” she said. “They just wanted everybody back up on the road.”

After Burr’s body was discovered, grieving family members gathered up the road from the wooded area that had been sectioned off by police investigators. Family members and friends wept and hugged as they attempted to console one another.

They described Burr’s personality in terms like “amazing,” “incredible” and “wonderful.”

“She was an incredible mother, an incredible grandmother and aunt,” said Burr’s goddaughter Melissa Fuller. “She was also an amazing wife. She was (Bud’s) partner. She was his best friend and he doesn’t know what he is going to do. It leaves an incredible hole in our lives.”

Fuller said the family now wants to know just what happened.

“There’s so many questions to be answered,” she said. “How did she get there? Did somebody put her there? At least now we don’t have to wonder where she is. We don’t have to wonder if she’s safe. We just want to know how she ended up there and why.”

Family members expressed gratitude to the volunteers who participated in the search and others who helped organize it.

“Today was a phenomenal day in that so many people came out and took part in this,” Fuller said. “We cannot thank these people enough.”

Those who knew her said Burr’s behavior on the night of her disappearance was unusual, noting that she normally did not venture out of the house alone and did not like the cold weather.

“Nobody really knows what happened and why she would leave the house or anything,” Fuller said. “There’s just no answers at this point in time. We just don’t know.”

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