Monday, June 27, 2022

The Murder of Stacey Burns


Stacey Burns was found murdered inside her own home on May 10th, 2009. The then-41-year-old lived in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where she worked as a school nurse while raising her five children. Stacey's brutal murder sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community of Wolfeboro - and many are still fearful about her killer remaining free today. 

Stacey's body was found in her bedroom by her son. It was Mother's Day, and her children planned to make her breakfast that morning. When Stacey's son Michael, then 15, walked into his mother's bedroom, he stumbled upon the horrific scene: Stacey was dead - she had been brutally stabbed to death. The killing happened overnight, while her children and some of their friends slept in nearby rooms. According to Michael, none of the children in the house reported hearing any signs of distress that night.

During the early stages of the investigation, police learned that there were numerous people in Stacey's life that could be potential suspects. Just months before her death, Stacey finalized her divorce with her ex-husband/father of her children, Ed Burns. According to Stacey's loved ones, the divorce was contentious. Stacey had begun a new relationship since separating from Ed, but reportedly ended that relationship just a few weeks before her death. Police also learned that just days before her death, Stacey went on a date with another man - during which she was confronted by her more recent ex-boyfriend. 

Despite all of these suspicious circumstances, no arrests have ever been made in Stacey's case. Still, there is a lot of speculation about her killer's identity. A close look at Stacey's various relationships, combined with the timeline of events leading up to her death, provides a few different theories. 

The marriage.

Stacey and Ed married in 1992. Throughout their relationship, Ed worked as a merchant marine and had to spend months at a time out at sea for his job. While Ed was away, Stacey cared for their children in Wolfeboro. Their family grew quickly - the couple ended up having a total of 5 children in a just a ten-year timeframe. 

According to Stacey's loved ones, her marriage to Ed was troubled. Ed himself stated that they would often have trouble adjusting after he would return from a long stint at sea. However, it appeared their marriage had even deeper issues. The couple's live-in babysitter, Brittany, said that she witnessed Ed engaging in controlling behaviors towards Stacey. In a 2011 report on Stacey's murder, Brittany is quoted saying "[Ed] wanted to know what Stacey was doing at all times. And if she would tell him the truth, he still wouldn't believe that it was the truth."

By 2007, Ed's controlling behaviors had escalated. According to court documents, Ed criticized Stacey "incessantly about her appearance and her actions, demanded intercourse, burned her clothes and accessories, made derogatory remarks about her in front of others and accused her of having affairs." 

Divorce and restraining orders.

Eventually, Stacey told Ed she wanted to separate. This sparked anger in Ed, and he continued to be abusive towards Stacey. During one particular incident, on July 29th, 2007, Ed entered Stacey's bedroom and stood over her, awaking her from sleep. He then told her, "Death before divorce."

Just a little over a week after that frightening incident, Ed angrily confronted Stacey again, accusing her of having an affair. According to reports, Ed "yelled at [Stacey] and shoved her. When she tried to call police, using the home phone and later a cell phone, he allegedly took both away from her to prevent her from calling 911."

Later that day, a judge granted Stacey a yearlong restraining order against Ed. As part of the restraining order, Ed was also ordered to enroll in an alcohol abuse program. Stacey was given sole custody of their children.

The following month, Stacey officially filed for divorce. Ed was out at sea when she filed the paperwork. He claimed he was completely shocked by the news, despite the fact that Stacey already had taken out a restraining order on him. 

On August 8th, 2008 - exactly one year after the restraining order was issued - Stacey appeared in court and asked for the order to be extended for another year. She cited that she was fearful of "what Ed would do if the restraining order was lifted." The judge granted Stacey's request, and ultimately decided to extend the restraining order for five years instead of just one. 

However, over the next few months, Stacey softened towards Ed and allowed him to see their children. They both voluntarily violated the restraining order on numerous occasions. Ed eventually returned to court to request that the order be overturned. He stated that Stacey had allowed him to babysit their children, and that they had taken their children to various outings and events together during the fall of 2008. The judge ultimately agreed to terminate the restraining order, citing that "the frequency of the contacts and the absence of any allegation of inappropriate behavior during these contacts suggest that the restraining order may expire."

Although Stacey and Ed were back in contact, they did not reconcile their romantic relationship. Their divorce was finalized by December 2008 - just five months before Stacey was murdered. 

Dating new people.

Jim Vittum

After splitting with Ed, Stacey began a relationship with a man named Jim Vittum. Stacey and Jim met after their respective sons began playing hockey together. Jim reportedly fell for Stacey fast, but Stacey wasn't ready for a serious relationship. Jim wanted to move into Stacey's home with his children - but Stacey thought it was too soon. According to friends, Jim had a tough time with Stacey telling him "no."

While Jim claims the two were in love, Stacey ended up breaking up with him just a few months into their relationship. Still, they remained friends, as their respective children were friends as well. 

About two days before her death, Stacey dropped her three youngest daughters off with Ed for the weekend. That same evening, Stacey went on a date with another man. Jim Vittum found out about the date, and subsequently drove to Stacey's house. When Stacey returned home from the date, Jim was there, ready to confront her. 

Jim would later claim he only went to Stacey's house that night because he felt she should not be dating anyone. He told reporters, "I wanted to confront the two of them so that I could ask her, 'What are you doing?' You could say I was stalking her, but I think I was being her friend."

May 9th and 10th.

After this incident, Stacey told her friends that she needed to speak with Jim and make it clear that things were over between the two of them. They met up the day before she was killed to have that conversation. Apparently, the conversation went amicably, as Jim was still invited over to Stacey's house that evening. Their respective children were having a sleepover that night, so Jim came over as well to watch a movie. 

The next day, Stacey and Jim were supposed to take their daughters to a lacrosse tournament. When Stacey and her daughter did not show up as planned, Jim drove to the house yet again. Once there, he saw the house surrounded by ambulances and police cars. Jim then spoke to Stacey's daughter, who told him that Stacey had been murdered. While on the scene, Jim approached a police officer and said "You've definitely gotta look at me. You've gotta clear me 'cause I'm gonna be his reasonable doubt. Eddie killed her."

A murder investigation.

Considering Ed's history of violent behavior towards Stacey, it was not a stretch for him to be considered a suspect. Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Stacey and Ed last saw each other two days before the murder - when Stacey dropped their daughters off. Although the two were coparenting, Stacey was still having issues with Ed, as he was not paying his share of child support. In fact, Stacey and Ed were due to appear in court over this issue just two days before she was killed. 

Ed has continuously denied involvement in Stacey's murder. Shortly after her death, he moved into the home for about a year to help care for their children. Many continued to point the finger at him, but he told police that he was at a party in Boston on the evening Stacey was killed. A friend/witness has backed this alibi. 

Jim Vittum also denied involvement in Stacey's murder - though it appears he was the last known adult to have seen Stacey before her death. Many felt that if Ed was not the killer, Jim seemed like the most likely suspect. Still, Jim has never been charged with anything related to Stacey's murder - nor has he been named a person-of-interest.

Still unsolved.

To this day, no arrests have been made in Stacey's case. In 2018, Ed Burns was arrested in Massachusetts after allegedly stabbing another man during an argument. After this incident, Stacey's family members sought a restraining order against Ed - which prevented him from seeing the children.

The 2018 incident and Stacey's murder are unrelated; however, the 2018 incident has led to even more speculation that Ed was Stacey's killer. Stacey was stabbed to death, and some feel that Ed's arrest for stabbing someone in 2018 is more than just a coincidence. Still, he has never been charged with anything related to Stacey's death.

Stacey's murder still haunts the small town of Wolfeboro. Her loved ones still hope to see justice in her case. If you have any information that could lead to the arrest of Stacey's killer(s), please contact the New Hampshire State Police tip line at 603-223-3856.

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