January 17, 2023
Thomas Burchard, who, according to his long-term girlfriend, Judy Earp, had given Turner over $300,000, was found dead in the trunk of Kelsey Turner’s car. The luxury vehicle, which Burchard himself had paid for, was discovered dumped near East Lake Mead in the Las Vegas Desert in March of 2019 with his body decaying in the trunk of her blue 2017 Mercedes-Benz. The car, which had been purchased from Craigslist several months earlier in November 2018, was found on State Route 147, near mile marker 14 at around 10:50am on March 7, 2019, by a motorist who spotted the luxury vehicle with a broken window and reported it to police. The victim’s body was concealed beneath bed sheets and items of clothes.
According to the autopsy, Turner had died due to blunt force trauma to the head, and blood evidence was found inside the vehicle. His death was ruled a homicide.
The vehicle was quickly linked to Kelsey Turner, and it was soon discovered that since December 2019, Turner had been staying in a rental near Warm Springs Road and Amigo Street, the payments for which were coming out of the victim's account. Turner had been staying there with her boyfriend, Jon Logan Kennison, and housemate, Diana Nicole Pena. Pena’s work ID was found in the vehicle.
Turner was arrested on March 21, 2019, in Stockton, California. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that Turner had several addresses, in Arizona, Las Vegas and California.
Inside the rental, more evidence of a crime was found, suggesting that the victim had been attacked inside. Blood evidence was found on one of the doors, which had been reportedly ripped from the hinges, and there was also evidence of an attempted clean-up of the scene, with said cleaning supplies left behind.
Kelsey Turner was small of frame, and the victim, Thomas Burchard, stood at six feet and weighed around 250lbs. Off the bat it seemed obvious that Turner couldn’t have worked alone and would have needed assistance moving 250lbs of dead weight into the trunk of her car. Turner’s boyfriend, Jon Logan Kennison, was quickly suspected of helping Turner bludgeon the 71-year-old man with a baseball bat, before bundling his body into the trunk of the Mercedes and dumping it in the Las Vegas desert.
Burchard and Turner had known each other for around two years before Turner and Kennison murdered him, and it is believed that he had travelled to Las Vegas to break off the relationship when he was beaten to death with a baseball bat. Burchard was reportedly planning to break up with Turner and cut her off financially. Reports state that in response, Turner accused the child psychologist of having pornographic images of children on his phone, an accusation that Judy Earp said was false. According to Earp, Turner was not the only woman that Burchard had been financially supporting over the years, and said there was a total of seventeen women who benefited from what Earp called Burchard’s “overly compassionate” nature. She had dated the victim for over 17 years before he was beaten to death. The pair often travelled together to attend various conferences.
Dr. Burchard had spent almost four decades working for a Montage Health as part of a medical non-profit behavioural health program. He was an amateur magician who would often perform magic tricks for the children in his care. Although he was well past the age of retirement, Earp said Burchard did not want to leave the patients he had been caring for, and instead of retiring completely, shaved down his hours.
Earp compared Turner to Charles Manson and called her evil.
She accused Turner of being a compulsive liar and told KTNV: "The last conversation I had with him (Burchard), he had to go to Las Vegas to check things out because she was a compulsive liar."
At a court hearing Earp added: "She was content to leave someone she knew for a number of years, who supported her and her child financially for a number of years, to rot in the back of the car in the desert that he paid for."
Kelsey Turner was found guilty of second-degree murder last week after entering an Alford plea and was sentenced to 10 - 25 years at the Nevada Department of Corrections. The Alford plea allows Turner to maintain her innocence while accepting a second-degree murder charge. It also means that she will be eligible for parole after ten years. According to statements made by Turner’s attorney Brian James Smith over the years, Turner has always denied any role in Burchard's death and has maintained her innocence.
The Alford plea means that the case will not go to trial, but that Turner acknowledges there is enough evidence against her to prove she is guilty if the case was to go to trial.
Jon Logan Kennison has been given a sentence of 18 - 45 years for his role in the murder and the concealment of Burchard’s corpse. Diana Nicole Pena aided prosecutors in their case against Kelsey Turner and has pleaded guilty to accessory to murder.
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