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Info sought in death

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Forty-nine-year-old Valerie Burns was last seen in downtown Wilmington before investigators found her body in her burning car on a dirt road in Leland early on July 30.

Investigators with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office have been canvassing downtown Wilmington and surrounding areas, passing out fliers of Burns and searching for leads about who she may have been with and where late July 29 or early July 30.

“We have some leads we’re working on; persons of interests we’re looking at,” Capt. Gene Caison said.

Caison said deputies have been handing out fliers from Supply to Leland in Brunswick County. In New Hanover County, sheriff’s deputies have concentrated on downtown Wilmington, but they’ve distributed fliers “all the way to Castle Hayne and Carolina Beach.”

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said they’re seeking the community’s help about Burns’ whereabouts—who she was last with, where she was last seen, where her 1994 Buick Regal was heading—before they discovered her body.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office received a $5,000 reward from N.C. Gov. Mike Easley for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Burns’ murder.

Burns, of Bluff Drive in Leland, was last seen in downtown Wilmington July 30, Caison said.

Around 3:35 a.m. July 30, the Winnabow Fire Department and the sheriff’s office responded to a vehicle fire on Goodland Road in Leland.

When the vehicle fire was suppressed, Burns’ body was found in the trunk of her car, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Preliminary autopsy results determined Burns died of smoke inhalation.

“We suspect foul play,” Ingram said.

“We are looking for help in the community. Anyone who may have seen Ms. Burns or the vehicle, please give us any information; contact us here at the sheriff’s office. Any information they can give us would be very helpful,” Ingram said.

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff’s office are investigating the fire and death.

Anyone with information, or who may have seen Burns or her 1995 gray, four-door Buick Regal is asked to call Lt. Sam Davis at the sheriff’s office, 253-2777.