Police in Las Vegas want the public’s help in the homicide death of a beloved child psychiatrist who was found dead in the trunk of an abandoned car in a remote desert area earlier this month.
The body of Dr. Thomas Burchard, 71, of Salinas, California, was found on March 7 in an abandoned vehicle on State Route 157, east of the Las Vegas Valley. A motorist driving through the area with his children noticed the car had a rock thrown through one of its windows.
Responding officers later found Burchard’s body inside, dead from blunt force injury to the head, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Judy Earp, Burchard’s longtime girlfriend, said the couple visited Las Vegas for a psychopharmacology conference in February. Burchard later returned to the city, but Earp declined to indicate why. Earp now wants the person responsible for killing the popular psychiatrist to “be brought to justice,” she told the newspaper.
“Whoever did this is just soulless,” Earp said.
Burchard’s death has shocked his patients and left some of them scrambling to find an adequate replacement after decades of sessions with some he began treating in childhood and continued seeing as adults. He was so trusted by some patients that he also advised their children, Earp said.
“The whole community has just a huge hole in it right now,” she told the newspaper.
Burchard worked for California-based Montage Health for nearly 40 years in its behavioral health program, according to spokeswoman Mary Barker.
“It’s a very sad situation, and our hearts go out to his family, friends, patients and colleagues,” Barker said in a statement to the newspaper. “We are notifying his patients and providing grief counseling for staff.”
The father of one of Burchard’s patients said he would regularly allow his daughter to exceed her time during sessions and often gave her and others “little knickknacks” or candy to cheer them up.
“He was the nicest man you could ever have met,” Andrew Williams, 53, told the Review-Journal.
Williams said his daughter’s “biggest challenge” will now be to find a replacement psychiatrist who helped her like Burchard did.
Anyone with information about Burchard’s death is asked to call the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide unit at (702) 828-3521. Tips leading directly to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward, police said.
The body of another man, Marcos Madrid, 33, was found along the same stretch of State Route 147 toward East Lake Mead just eight days after Burchard’s body was discovered, KTNV reports.
Madrid, of Las Vegas, was found dead with several gunshot wounds after cops received a report from someone who saw his body near mile marker 10. His death was also ruled a homicide, but authorities could not confirm whether the deaths are connected, according to the station.