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Son accused of strangling, burying father in backyard | News

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Son accused of strangling, burying father in backyard
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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - A Brooksville man is accused of killing his own father and then burying him in their backyard near the gravesite of a family pet.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office says it all started on October 22nd when James Burke called investigators to report that his brother, 61-year-old Raymond Burke, was missing.

Photo Gallery: Man charged with killing, burying father

Raymond lived at 27047 Hiawatha Boulevard with his 40-year-old son, Christopher Burke, and Christopher's girlfriend, Shannon Atkinson. When detectives went out to the house, they say Shannon claimed Raymond left with someone named "Ronnie" to move out of state.

Sheriff Nienhuis says Christopher said he believed his father might be headed to Texas armed with a firearm to hurt his mother. But Nienhuis says Raymond didn't take his vehicle, didn't leave a forwarding address for his Social Security checks, and left his five small, beloved dogs behind. James Burke told detectives it would be extremely unusual for his brother to do that. Plus, James told them that every time he tried to reach Raymond by calling his cell phone it would go straight to voice mail.

The sheriff says when they started checking, they learned that Christopher had been using his father's debit card, draining the account of funds.

On Thursday, Christopher and Shannon were interviewed at the Sheriff's Office when Nienhuis says Shannon explained what she says happened. "His girlfriend did later admit that Mr. Burke's son had in fact killed him and that they had buried his body here on the property at the house back in mid-November."

Investigators say Christopher Burke did finally confess. Sheriff Nienhuis says Christopher explained that he hit his father over the head with a flashlight during an argument. Nienhuis adds that when the father passed out, the son says he strangled him then buried his body in the backyard.

Charlene Miller, a neighbor,  says there was another person living inside the house where the alleged murder happened: a child. Miller says, "She would walk up past our house in the mornings with a boy that seemed to be about 11 or 12 years old."

There is no word yet on whether Shannon Atkinson will be charged with any wrongdoing. Officials say the investigation is ongoing.

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