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  • Writer's pictureMountain State Mysteries

The Murder Of Cleo Burdette

TODAY WE WANT TO TELL YOU THE STORY OF CLEO BURDETTE WHO WAS A 78-YEAR-OLD CATTLE RANCHER FROM SISSONVILLE WEST VIRGINIA.

CLEO NEVER MARRIED AND DIDN’T HAVE ANY CHILDREN. HE LIVED IN THE FAMILY HOMESTEAD IN SISSONVILLE ON CICERONE ROAD.

ACCORDING TO CLEO’S NIECE HER UNCLE WAS A MASTER OF HIS TRADE, A WELL-KNOWN FARMER. “THAT WAS HIS LIFE”. CLEO’S LOVE OF FARMING, HORSES AND RAISING CATTLE. “HE DID A WONDERFUL JOB AT IT, AND HE USUALLY GOT TOP DOLLAR FOR HIS CATTLE AT MARKET.”


ON AUGUST 12TH 2004 CLEO WENT TO A CATTLE AUCTION TO SELL SOME OF HIS CATTLE.

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE DAY OF AUGUST 13TH IS UNCLEAR TO DO THE LACK OF ARTICLES ON CLEO.

ON AUGUST 13,2004, 78-YEAR-OLD CLEO BURDETTE WAS FOUND MURDER IN HIS HOME BY HIS SISTER GWEN WINES.

CLEO’S HOME HAD BEEN RANSACKED, WINDOWS BROKEN AND THE TELEPHONE LINE CUT. DUE TO THIS STILL BEING AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION WE SADLY DO NOT HAVE MANY DETAILS ABOUT THIS CASE.


IN AN ARTICLE FROM AUGUST 14,2004 IT SAYS THE KANAWHA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT IS INVESTIGATING THE DISCOVERY OF A DEAD BODY AT A RURAL SISSONVILLE RESIDENCE EARLY FRIDAY MORNING. SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES DISCOVERED THE BODY OF A MAN IN HIS 70’S AROUND 9:30 AM. AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER WHO DISCOVERED THE BODY CALLED 911, SAID LT. J.S. BAILES, SPOKESMAN FOR THE KANAWHA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT.

“WE ARE TREATING IT AS SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES,” BAILES SAID, BAILES WOULD NOT COMMENT ON HOW THE MAN DIED PENDING AN AUTOPSY. DEPUTIES REPORTED THE MAN’S HOME SMELLED STRONGLY OF NATURAL GAS, A KANAWHA COUNTY DISPATCHER SAID. DEPUTIES REMAINED AT THE SCENE THROUGHOUT THE DAY INVESTIGATION THE INCIDENT. THE MAN' S NAME AND ADDRESS WERE NOT AVAILABLE FRIDAY.”


FROM THIS TO ME IT SOUNDS LIKE THE MURDER OR MURDERS TRIED TO USE GAS IN HOPE THAT IT MAY CATCH FIRE AND START A HOUSE FIRE TO HIDE POTENTIEL EVIDENCE FROM THE CRIME.


CLEO’S SISTER SAID IN AN INTERVIEW WITH WCHSTV THAT “EVERYBODY WAS SHOCKED TO DEATH. WHEN THIS HAPPENED, THAT WAS THE BIGGEST SHOCK THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE COMMUNITY.”


HER FAMILY SAID SHE EVENTUALLY MOVED OUT OF STATE, PARTIALLY DUE TO THE PAIN AND FEAR SHE FELT OVER HER BROTHER'S DEATH.


WHAT WE DO KNOW ABOUT THIS CASE IS THAT GWEN WENT TO CHECK ON HER BROTHER ON THE MORNING OF AUGUST 13TH AFTER NOT BEING ABLE TO REACH HIM AFTER HE LEFT HER HOME FOR DINNER THE PREVIOUS EVENING. HER FAMILY SAID THAT CELO WOULD ALWAYS CALL HER TO LET HER KNOW HE WAS HOME.


LORETTA SHIRKEY CELO’S NIECE SAID “IT TRAUMATIZED HER”

GWEN AND LORETTA USED TO TALK ABOUT IT AND SHE SAID “IT WAS A CONSTANT ON HER MIND. SHE COULDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY COULDN’T FIND OUT WHO DID IT, WHY THEY COULDN’T MAKE AN ARREST, WHY THEY COULDN’T DO SOMETHING THAT WAS CONCLUSIVE.”


LORETTA SAID THAT SHE PAINFULLY REMEMBERS THE DAY THAT CHANGED HER FAMILY FOREVER. HER UNCLE HAD BEEN TIED UP, BEATEN AND FORCED TO DRINK WEED KILLER.


KANAWHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE OF DETECTIVES FT. DEAN SNUFFER SAID UT WAS APPARENT FROM THE CONDITION OF THE HOME THAT WHOEVER WAS THERE WAS IN SEARCH OF SOMETHING.

“IT APPEARED TO US THAT SOMEBODY HAS REALLY RANSACKED THE HOUSE. WENT THROUGH EVERYTHING, IT LOOKED TO USE LIKE THEY WERE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING”


INVESTIGATORS WOULD SOON FIND OUT THAT CLEO HAD RECEIVED A LARGE SUM OF MONEY THE PREVIOUS DAY FROM THE CATTLE SALE.

“HE HAD GONE TO MARKET THE DAY BEFORE AND SOLD A BUNCH OF CATTLE SOMEBODY MUST HAVE BEEN AT THE MARKET, SEEN HIM WITH ALL OF THE CASH, KNEW HE LIVED ALONE, KNEW HIS HOUSE WAS ISOLATED. HE WOULD BE AN EASY TARGET.”


“SOME INDIVIDUALS IN THE AREA THAT LIVE HERE AND WENT TO CHURCH IN THE AREA, THEY CAME FORWARD AND SAID THEY SPOTTED, WHAT APPEARED TO BE, THEY THOUGHT A REDDISH COLORED TOYOTA THAT HAD BEEN PARKED NEAR MR. BURDETTE’S HOUSE.”


IN ANOTHER ARTICLE FROM AUGUST 18, 2004, IT SAID BAILES HAD LABELED THE INCIDENT AS “SUSPICIOUS” AND SAID DETECTIVES ARE TREATING IT AS A HOMICIDE, AT LEAST UNTIL THE MEDICAL EXAMINER GIVES THEM A CASE OF DEATH. THERE WERE SOME ABRASIONS ON BURDETTE’S BODY, BUT NO SIGNS OF A GUNSHOT WOUND OR OTHER CONTUSION. BURDETTE'S


HOUSE WAS “IN A STATE OF DISARRAY”. BAILES SAID, THOUGH INVESTIGATORS COULD FIND NO SIGN OF FORCED ENTRY.”

*MUSIC PAUSE*


DURING MY RESEARCH I’VE SEEN A FEW THINGS SAYING THE HOUSE DIDN’T HAVE FORCE ENTRY. THIS HAD BE WONDERING IF CLEO KNEW WHO THE MURDER OR MURDERS WERE. IF SO, THEY KNEW THAT THE CASH WOULD BE IN THE HOUSE. HOWEVER, IT WASN’T THERE.


LORETTA SAID, “I DON’T THINK THAT THEY THOUGHT HE HAD THE CHANCE TO GO TO THE BANK, BUT I GUESS HE IMMEDIATELY WENT TO THE BANK THE NEXT MORNING.”


IN NOVEMBER OF 2004 GWEN TOLD EYEWITNESS NEWS THAT “I HOPE I GET TO LOOK THEM IN THE EYE AND ASK THEM WHY THEY DID IT.”

SADLY, SHE NEVER GOT THE CHANCE IN 2019 SHE PASSED AWAY NOT KNOWING WHAT HAPPENED TO HER BROTHER.


SNUFFER SAID “MR. BURDETTE’S CASE, WE STILL GET INFORMATION ON IT FREQUENTLY AND WE FOLLOW IT UP UNTIL THAT LEAD IS EXHAUSTED, SOMEBODY OUT THERE HAS TO KNOW SOMETHING. THERE WAS SOMEBODY AT MR. BURDETTE’S HOUSE. WE WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT HE HAS A FAMILY, THEY DID CARE FOR HIM AND THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. WE WANT ANYBODY WITH INFORMATION, NO MATTER HOW SMALL THEY THINK IT IS, OR HOW IRRELEVANT THEY MIGHT THINK IT IS TO CALL US BECAUSE THAT COULD BE THE LAST PIECE IN THIS CASE THAT WE NEED TO SOLVE.”


FOR LORETTA AND HER FAMILY. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF DIGNITY AND JUSTICE.


LORETTA SAID, “IF YOU CAN BEAT, TORTURE SOMEONE, KILL THEM IN THE MANNER, YOU SHOULD BE HUMAN ENOUGH JUST COMME FORWARD AND IF YOU’RE NOT THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO DID IT, THEN IF YOU KNOW SOMETHING, YOU SHOULD DO IT. THE FAMILY, THEY DESERVE IT, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.”


AFTER 19 YEARS ON UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, INVESTIGATORS REMAIN HOPEFUL THAT THIS CASE COULD BE SOLVED.


SNUFFER SAID THEY HAVE HAS SUSPECTS IN THE CASE. SAME HAVE BEEN CLEARED, HE SAID BUT THERE ARE OTHER THEY ARE STILL LOOKING AT. THEY ARE ASKING ANYONE WHO MAY HAVE ANY INFORMATION TO CALL (304)357-0169. YOU CAN ALSO EMAIL THEM AT TIPS@KANAWHASHERIFF.US

OR SUBMIT A TIP ON THEIR WEBSITE.






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