Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Harvey Robinson: Adolescent Serial Killer

Harming the Innocent

Joan May Burghardt
Joan May Burghardt

Joan May Burghardt, 29 and suffering from a mental illness that required assisted living, had reported that someone had entered her apartment by cutting through a screen door.  She assured her parents that she would be more careful about locking her doors and windows, but two days later, on August 9, 1992, she was unaware that a man watched her through a window as she began to undress.  She entered the living room with some milk and cookies, and suddenly the man tore through the front window screen and came at her, smacking her so hard in the head he knocked her glasses off and spattered the wall with her blood.  Although trapped, she managed to run past this intruder and get to a room where she pounded on the wall and screamed for help.  In fact, a neighbor on the floor above her heard her but declined to do anything. 

The intruder turned on the television, increasing the volume over her screams.  Other neighbors reportedly heard this, but no one intervened or asked her to turn it down.  The intruder bludgeoned Burghardt with a blunt weapon until she fell to the floor and kept hitting her in a rage, delivering some thirty-seven blows to her head.  The impact was so hard that he drove strands of her hair into the skull fractures.  Once he was certain she was dead, he looked for a pair of her panties in a drawer and then used them to masturbate over her prostrate body.  He also tore open the panties she wore.  (Some sources indicate that he raped her as well, but others contradict this.)  When he was finished, he went out a back door, leaving the television on.  Despite the fact that he was covered in blood, he walked through a field and went to his home about four blocks away.

Soon he was detained for another crime and sent to juvenile detention.  When he got out eight months later, he attacked Charlotte Schmoyer.  After that, as the summer days grew longer and hotter, he escalated his rampage.


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