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A life of sacrifice

Timeline of events in the Burns case.

Published September 19, 2005

June 4, 1951: Barbara Ann Burns is born in Maryland. Her father, John, is a printer. Her mother, Margaret, stays home with her and her two older brothers and later a younger sister.

Aug. 14, 1964: Debbie Burns, the fifth child, is born. Barbara, who is 13, takes over most of the babysitting.

1966: At age 2, Debbie gets scarlet fever, which leaves her mentally disabled.

1967: Their father dies and their mother goes to work. Barbara, who is 16, quits school to look after Debbie.

1981: Barbara, Debbie and their mother move to Florida. By now, their mother is unable to work, so Barbara supports the family with minimum-wage jobs at Howard Johnson's and Bealls Outlet.

Nov. 2, 2000: Barbara and Debbie's mother dies, leaving the sisters alone. About this time, their brother John also dies, leaving Debbie $350,000.

2001: Barbara and Debbie to go Australia and California, tracking soap opera stars. They also place a down payment on an $81,126 mobile home in St. Petersburg.

2003: Money starts running out. Barbara stops paying the mortgage. The bank begins foreclosure on the mobile home.

July 2, 2003: Barbara files for bankruptcy and starts working at Lowe's. She makes reduced payments on the mobile home.

Aug. 14, 2004: During a birthday dinner for Debbie, the sisters argue over money.

Aug. 15, 2004: Debbie turns 40. Sometime before dawn, while she is asleep, Barbara shoots Debbie in the head, according to police.

Barbara goes to work at Lowe's. That night, she moves into another bedroom. She continues to live in the mobile home with her sister's body for six weeks.

September 2004: A neighbor asks about Debbie. Barbara says she's in California with a sick aunt.

Oct. 1, 2004: After abandoning her 1994 Dodge Caravan at the St. Petersburg bus station, Barbara buys a one-way ticket to Virginia Beach.

November 2004: Barbara starts working the night shift at a 7-Eleven. As the winter gets colder, she moves into a homeless shelter.

January 2005: Barbara's van is found at the Greyhound station.

March 1, 2005: Barbara opens a bank account in Virginia Beach and has Debbie's disability checks sent there.

May 4, 2005: The mortgage company sends workers to clear out the mobile home. In the master bedroom, workers discover Debbie's decomposed body wrapped in Star Wars blankets. Debbie has been dead for more than eight months.

May 8, 2005: Detective Ed Judy flies to Virginia Beach and stakes out the 7-Eleven where Barbara works.

May 9, 2005: Barbara is charged with first-degree murder. Ultimately, she confesses to the crime.

July 6, 2005: Back in Pinellas County, Barbara is arraigned. She is being held without bail pending trial.

[Last modified September 17, 2005, 11:27:11]

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