RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Does a notorious Richmond serial killer have more victims then we know about? It's a question raised by an NBC12 Investigation.
A former Richmond detective revealed a shocking secret. He says he was forced to cover up two murders from 1996 after, he says, the Golden Years killer confessed to both.
Now another former Richmond Police detective speaks out. She backs up Ron Reed's story about the Golden Years killer, defending Reed's version of what happened.
Leslie Leon Burchart terrorized Richmonders in the late 90's. He was called the Golden Years killer for stalking and strangling older women in the West End. He confessed to killing four women and three homeless men. He also pleaded guilty to viciously beating a fourth man.
"He was a violent, mentally deranged man. There was not a real human being behind those eyes. He had all the time in the world to walk and follow them, watch them," said former Richmond detective Jan McTernan. She spent hours talking to Burchart about his crimes. She was fascinated with him.
"You'd be in an interview with him, where everything was going along pretty good," said McTernan. "I'd be sitting there, kind of amazed at what was coming out of his mouth, and then he would go completely squirrelly. He would have a lucid conversation with you and then go off the rails."
Diagnosed a Schizophrenic, Burchart was off his medications during his six-month killing spree in 1996. There was never any physical evidence that tied him to the killings - just his confessions.
"There were things he said that only he could have known," said McTernan.
"I'm sure he killed more people than we knew about," said former detective Ron Reed. Reed says, on two occasions, Burchart admitted to killings the Richmond police had already considered to be natural cause deaths. The first was a woman in the Kensington Gardens nursing home. The second was a homeless man behind a grocery store on Broad Street. We've spoken with Reed several times over the last few months. His story has never changed.
"He described how he went into the nursing home and how he entered the room, and the person was suffering, and they need to die. So, he took the oxygen off of her and waited for her to suffocate." Reed says he was ordered not to talk about these confessions or tell the grieving family of the woman from Kensington Gardens.
"He told me that murder rate was already high enough. He didn't want it to go any higher," said Reed.
He says he retired early, a year later because of that order. He says it's haunted him ever since.
Jan McTernan believes every word. "I would never doubt his credibility. He's a man of honor and I think it really did eat at him. If he said that conversation took place, I would imagine that conversation took place."
Jan says she was watching from behind glass when Burchart revealed what happened to the woman at Kensington Gardens. "There was something particular in that interview that while I was sitting there listening to it I thought he killed that woman."
She believes Reed is just looking to tell his truth.
"In his heart of hearts, he wants to try in his own way to make things right for that family. The loved ones of the woman in Kensington Gardens."
Reed is hoping someone will come forward to help him reconnect with the family of the woman from Kensington Gardens. He says there was a nurse at Kensington Gardens that had key information at the time.
In a statement, Richmond Police Department spokesperson Gene Lepley said, "The Richmond Police Department takes great pride in all of its investigations. We invite anyone who may have information about cases that we investigate to contact us. We try to bring all of our cases to successful conclusions."