A man found shot in the back of the head early today on Quaker Ave. near 82nd St. was identified just before noon as Robert O. Burdett Jr.
Detective Capt. L. W. Forrester said the slaying victim, about 41, formerly resided at O’Donnell. The identification was made by an aunt, Mrs. Ralph Burdett, at Franklin-Bartley Funeral Home.
According to Forrester, relatives in O’Donnell had heard reports and descriptions of the victim and called the Lubbock aunt to inquire about Robert. He had been working for his uncle, Ralph Burdett, in the floor sanding business for about a week and had been residing with the aunt and uncle at 1020 18th St.
“He didn’t come home last night [March 13, 1963],” Mrs. Burdett said she told the O’Donnell relatives. Mrs. Burdett immediately called police, who took her to the funeral home.
Prior to the identification, detectives were trying to trace laundry marks and checking hotels for possible missing persons. Police files on missing persons already had been searched.
At 1 p.m. today, the last person reported to have seen the victim alive was his uncle. Mrs. Burdett said her husband saw Robert leave the residence on foot about 5:30 p.m., cleaned up and well dressed.
Ralph Burdett and the nephew had done some work at a house Wednesday and were to go to Brownfield on a job today. The uncle had gone there alone and had not been contacted about noon.
It appeared there was no strong robbery motive in the murder. The victim had been unemployed for some time until he went to work for his uncle, police were told. He had been divorced for several years and formerly resided in California. His parents were reported in ill health, the father with a cardiac condition.
An aunt, Mrs. Tobe Burdett of Lubbock said the slain man had been in California 15 years until a week before Christmas, when he returned to the South Plains because of his mother’s serious illness, which required her hospitalization in Lamesa.
He did odd jobs in that section until a week ago, when he came to Lubbock and began working with his uncle.
“Robert was of a sunny disposition. All liked him, so far as we knew. We can’t figure it out. We don’t know if he had any money, but his billfold was not on his body when he was found,” Mrs. Burdett said.
Sgt. Wayne LeCroy discovered the body in a ditch on the southwestern edge of the city limits about 2 a.m.
The victim was on his stomach in a pool of blood. The unlighted dirt road is bordered on both sides by plowed fields.
The victim was dressed in a brown suit, brown tie, and brown shoes and socks. He was a small man, about 5 feet 6 and weighing perhaps 140 pounds.
A few personal items were found on the body, but there was no billfold or money. A laundry tag found inside the man’s trousers was the only clue to his identity. The tag carried the name “Bob Burnett.”
Justice of the Peace George H. McCleskey said the man appeared to have been dead about two hours when he was found.
A .38 caliber bullet was recovered from the man’s brain in an autopsy this morning, Forrester said.
Officers said Burdett had two front teeth missing, but it had not been learned whether they were out prior to Wednesday night.
The body had what appeared to be new bruises on arms and hands, right thigh, and a skinned place on the right shin, as though he had been kicked. For purposes of establishing identification, police also noted that he had a Marine Corps insignia tattoo on his right forearm. He had long brown hair and a receding hairline.
At 5:30 a.m., an intoxicated man was arrested in a car, which was stopped crosswise in two lanes of the street near Clovis Rd. and Ave. U. Patrolmen found in his possession a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson, five-shot revolver. The man was being investigated for possible connection with the slaying. The pistol was fully loaded at the time of his arrest, police said. The man was in a 1962 Chevrolet.
Evidence at the scene included indistinct footprints of possibly two men. Indications were that Burdett was dragged from the car and dumped in the ditch just a few feet away, and that the slayer drove off northward, according to Detective Lt. James Fergerson.
Powder burns were noted on the man’s scalp.