As promised in a previous blog, I am occasionally including small portions of Murder in a Small Town: The Tragic Death of Stacey Burns, which is a book waiting for the arrest/trial/conviction chapters to be written. Here is the beginning of Chapter Six. This was written over four years ago!

Chapter Six

How Is It Possible?

In 1996, Stacey Burns, a thirty year-old mother of five, moved with her family to the quiet, rural town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Not many in that spirited age bracket give much thought to death; instead, they embrace the immortality syndrome, the one that measures life expectancy in decades rather than in years. How is it possible that less than thirteen years later, Stacey, an elementary school nurse and vital part of so many lives, could be butchered in a vicious stabbing attack, the killer leaving her to die, partially wrapped in blood-soaked blankets and sheets and curled up in a fetal position on the floor beside her bed?  The answer lies somewhere in the complexity of human nature and a series of events and relationships that bring a person to be in a certain time and place. It is an answer that begs for discovery, an answer that a family and a community whose hearts have been ripped apart deserve .

Like so many who have made similar moves, Stacey and her family probably romanticized the idyllic environment that would engender the type of life style needed for them to thrive. The Lakes Region of New Hampshire has done this to countless tourists who return as full time residents, assuming their lives will become permanent extensions of their vacations. As so often happens when reality clashes with fantasy, the move to Wolfeboro did not diminish the tension that was building in Stacey’s life, tension that would culminate years later in restraining orders against her husband and, subsequently, a bitter divorce. However, as any true professional does, she put aside any personal issues when she entered the local elementary school to perform her duties as school nurse. Beloved by children and parents alike, Stacey Burns became the consummate professional at Carpenter School. Generally, the daily life of a school nurse in an elementary school is filled with skinned knees, bumped heads, real or imagined stomach ailments and even homesickness. Stacey, by all accounts, filled this role with love and compassion for those needing her attention and served as a role model of patience and tolerance for the staff of Carpenter Elementary School.

“Stacey was a hero whose radiant light shone through,” said her principal, Jan Brooks, in her eulogy. “She brought hope and encouragement, gave so much, sought lives to touch and lived to care.”

How is it possible that Stacey Burns became the victim of such a savage act, an act that appears to be a well-planned execution? What had happened during the years in Wolfeboro that could cause another human being to hate her with such passion that he or she could carry out a crime of such ferocious intensity? As Brad Garrett, the former FBI profiler said in a short clip on the 20/20 television show, “This was overkill.” From what is so well documented about the special person who was Stacey Burns, the assumption has to be that her killer allowed rage to overtake reason and, even when (if) this person is ever caught, we probably will never understand how they could allow that to happen.

How is it possible? The answer may never be known but the search for that answer must never cease.

I’m aware that publishing these small portions of an incomplete narrative is risky simply because that narrative may change when the final answers in the story are known. As always, any comments are welcome.