Search for Burns called off

LAVALETTE -- The search for the remains of Marshall University student Samantha Burns near a ravine in Lavalette was called off on Thursday with still few answers as to her whereabouts.

The search for Burns' body near a ravine next to railroad tracks was called off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Monica Caison, founder of Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons.

"I feel confident as well as the Burns' family feels confident that she's not there," Caison said.

Caison said various teams as well as about 20 cadaver dogs combed the area for seven days.

"We have completed the task of finding the ravine and excavating the entire ravine," she said. "That's all we can do."

The 19-year-old West Hamlin native was last seen alive in 2002 at the Huntington Mall.

The CUE team became involved in the search in January 2009 when Caison received a package from death row inmate Chadrick Fulks, who said he wanted to help bring Burns and another missing woman home.

Caison, who helped to find another of Fulks' victims earlier this year, has said she's not so sure the condemned Fulks really wants anyone to find Burns. She has said she's found missing people for more than 15 years easier than the search for Burns.

Caison said some crew members would stay behind to sift through the dirt again as the hole was filled on Friday.

Fulks and co-defendant Brandon Basham await execution after being convicted of killing Burns and another woman, Alice Donovan, a 44-year-old from South Carolina, during a 17-day crime spree that started after they escaped from a Kentucky jail in November 2002.

Fulks and Basham were convicted of carjackings that led to the death of both victims. They received the death penalty in Donovan's case.

When last seen at the Huntington Mall, Burns had made a payment on her J.C. Penney credit card. Her abductors used her ATM card at various locations. Police found Burns' burned-out Chevrolet Cavalier near Haney's Branch Road in rural Wayne County.

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