About 4:30p Sunday, a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy knocked on the door of a light blue house setting on the eastside of the road at 5882 South Beck’s Mill Road.
A caller from another state had let the City of Salem Police know that they had spoken with Richard Lee Burton Jr. – who had been living in the home – and was concerned for the lives of the three residents.
The officer was responding to a call that the residents of the home could be in danger.
As he peered inside, he saw a body and called for backup.
Over the next 18 hours, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers came together in what Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Howard calls a “tremendous effort” in response to this tragedy — which brings to a total 8 homicides since January.
“A terrible man recently took the lives of three people in our community, including the life of an innocent boy,” said Houchin. “In an act of cowardice, the man killed himself to avoid being held to account for his deeds.”
Washington County Coroner Peg Schell will release the names of the victims and the causes of death after an autopsy Tuesday morning.
Houchin wrote the following in a statement released to WSLM this afternoon:
“I want the people of Washington County to know about the tremendous effort and great work of the law enforcement community in response to this case.
“Literally, every resource of the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Salem Police Department, The Pekin Town Marshal, the Washington County Coroner’s Office, the Indiana State Police Sellersburg Post, and the local Indiana Department of Natural Resources Office were brought together.
“We coordinated also with Federal law enforcement agencies, the Indiana Fusion Center, and police agencies across multiple states.
“As I stood at the crime scene on Sunday night, a whirlwind of activity was taking place from a central staging area: the area was cordoned off and made safe; witnesses were being interviewed by teams of officers, including coordination with detectives interviewing in Missouri; search warrants were being drafted; electronic surveillance was up; crime scene technicians were combing the scene for evidence; and notices were being sent to sister agencies and the public to be on the lookout for an armed and dangerous man.
“The work occurred rapidly, effectively, and in a cooperative and coordinated way.”
Houchin, who is serving his second term as Prosecuting Attorney, said “A hallmark of Washington County Law Enforcement over the last many years has been how well the various agencies work together. I am proud of that fact, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the willingness of these men and women to protect our community.”
“This tragic event leaves us grieving, particularly for the family and friends of the victims. I hope we never have another experience like it,” he noted. “Rest assured, though, that in the worst of times, our law enforcement is ready, and will answer the call of duty with speed and excellence.”