DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Murder suspect Robert Burton does not want to publicly disclose how he eluded capture for more than two months while multiple law enforcement agencies conducted an intensive search for him, according to his attorney. But Burton did offer insight into why he turned himself in to authorities on Aug. 11.
“He did express fear of being shot,” Jeffrey Toothaker, an Ellsworth attorney assigned to represent Burton, said Monday when asked why his client surrendered at the Piscataquis County Jail last week.
Burton, 38, was the subject of a historic manhunt that began on June 5 with the discovery of his ex-girlfriend’s body in Parkman. Authorities described the Abbot man as armed and dangerous. The search, which put the entire region on edge, was concentrated in southern Piscataquis County where Burton was raised. He was spotted twice in Guilford several weeks apart before giving up on the 68th day of the search.
“He indicated he didn’t want to talk about it,” Toothaker said, when asked what Burton said about his days on the run. “He asked me not to talk about it.”
Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said Monday afternoon that the investigation is ongoing and that he had not heard of anyone else being charged in the case. Anyone who helped Burton remain free could face felony charges for assisting a fugitive, state police officials have said.
Stephanie Ginn Gebo, 37, was discovered shot to death on her bedroom floor by her 13-year-old daughter on June 5, the six-page affidavit filed by state police Detective Thomas Pickering of the Major Crimes Unit North states. Ginn Gebo and Burton broke up on May 31 and she was so afraid of him that she changed the locks on her doors and was sleeping with a gun, according to the affidavit. His backpack and jacket were found by investigators outside her open first-floor bedroom window, it states.
An arrest warrant on a charge of murder was issued for Burton on June 8, and a fugitive from justice warrant was added when Burton made his first court appearance last Wednesday, a Piscataquis County Jail official said Monday.
On Friday, Toothaker and Assistant Attorney General John Alsop agreed during a phone conference to indefinitely postpone Monday’s scheduled bail hearing. That evening, Toothaker met with Burton in person for the first time.
“He was really closed-lipped Friday night,” Toothaker said of the interview.
The judge did not ask Burton to enter a plea last week because he has not yet been indicted by the grand jury, which next meets in Piscataquis County in October, his attorney said.
“There will be nothing [to release] between then and now,” Toothaker said. “I don’t even know who the judge assigned to the case is yet.”
Toothaker said that his client, who appeared healthy during Wednesday’s court hearing, had lost weight while on the run.
“When he came in he was pretty scrawny,” Toothaker said. “They’ve been feeding him very well [in jail].”
Vance Ginn, the father of Ginn Gebo, said he thinks someone helped Burton, who has a lengthy criminal history.
“It’s pretty obvious someone was,” Ginn said just before Burton’s first court appearance. “He was wearing clean clothes, no bug bites, no nothing.”
Ginn added that it’s his opinion that anyone who helped Burton deserves to be charged.
Toothaker said he could not answer questions about how Burton was apparently able to shave while on the lam for more than nine weeks. Burton’s head and facial hair were cleanly shaven in the Piscataquis County Jail mugshot released shortly after his arrest.
“Those are not questions that concern me,” Toothaker said. “I had other questions to ask.”