SALINAS, Calif. – Authorities have arrested a 25-year-old woman in connection with the slaying of a California doctor whose body was found in the trunk of a car near Las Vegas earlier this month.
Kelsey Turner, who reportedly modeled for magazines and Playboy’s Italian website, faces charges in the killing of Dr. Thomas Burchard, a 71-year-old psychiatrist from Salinas, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Records indicate addresses for Turner in Arizona, Las Vegas and California, including Salinas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A Salinas landlord told The Californian that Burchard paid him $3,200 a month in rent for a home where Turner, her mother and children lived.
Early last fall, Harshadray Patel said, Burchard told him that he was done paying Turner’s rent after leasing the home for her for one year. Patel said he evicted the family three months later, in fall 2018, for nonpayment of rent.
On March 7, officers found Burchard’s body in an abandoned vehicle near the entrance to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas.
A man driving through the remote area with his kids noticed a parked vehicle that had a rock thrown through one of its windows, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Officers responded, and when they opened the trunk to conduct a search, they found Burchard’s body inside.
He had been bludgeoned to death. His death was ruled a homicide.
Las Vegas homicide detectives determined Turner was involved with the incident and coordinated with the FBI Stockton Safe Street Task Force to apprehend Turner in Stockton, California, on March 21.
Police declined to provide further details, including what evidence ties Turner to the alleged killing or any possible motive.
Police said she is currently awaiting extradition to Clark County.
Turner’s father, Christopher Ingram, has started a GoFundMe campaign on her behalf to raise $50,000 for legal bills.
“She’s great,” Ingram said. “She’s a wonderful, loving mom and a good kid.”
“All her life (Kelsey) has gone out of her way to help others,” Ingram wrote in the GoFundMe description. “Now she needs our help. She is being accused of a crime she could not possibly commit.”
Ingram declined to comment further.
Burchard’s girlfriend of 17 years, Judy Earp, told The Californian she and Burchard had been in Las Vegas a month before he died for a conference he attended annually, though she would not say why he returned to Nevada in early March, citing the active police investigation.
Earp said she knew of Turner, and of the lease, but had not met her personally. According to Earp, Burchard had known Turner for about two years.
“He was always helping people,” Earp said. “Anybody with a sad story, you know. Some people took advantage of that.”
Burchard worked with the Montage Health behavioral health program at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. He had a small number of adolescent patients and a larger number of adult patients.
“He’s a long-standing physician in the community who was very helpful to many of his patients,” hospital spokeswoman Mary Barker has said. “It was a sad situation and our hearts go out to his family.”
While it’s not yet clear why Burchard was paying Turner’s rent, court documents obtained by The Californian indicate he had done something similar before.
In divorce filings from 2001, Burchard said he had paid other people’s rent. After finding that he had sent thousands of dollars to women he met online, his ex-wife accused him of developing relationships with the women.
Burchard, however, said in his filing that his wife Geri had “misinterpreted” the relationships.
He said he’d messaged a Santa Cruz woman online and met with her twice after learning her son had “significant psychiatric problems,” according to court documents.
“So I met with her on two occasions to discuss his care,” Burchard said in his declaration. “I also helped her with rent money which prevented them from being evicted.”
He went on to say he frequently gave money to needy people for help with rent, bills and prescription medications.
Burchard acknowledged in court records that he spoke with people online, including in other countries, but maintained the chats were innocuous.
“Some of the women were flirtatious, which upset her greatly,” he said in his declaration, referring to his ex-wife.
His ex-wife maintained in her court statements that Burchard’s relationships, including those in which he paid rent or sent money, were “very inappropriate.”
In December 2000, his ex-wife was on the home computer when she discovered her husband had been e-mailing women with suggestive screen names, she said in her declaration.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/28/psychiatrist-bludgeoned-woman-arrested-slaying/3305976002/