(Editor’s note: The article contains a quote that uses a scatological reference some may find offensive, but which is deemed necessary to quote)
Levi Burch’s family, friends — and even those who never knew him — gathered Saturday, Sept. 3, in the place he was killed to remember him on the one year anniversary of his death. Burch, 20, was fatally shot by another motorist in the early morning of Sept. 5, 2010. He was traveling in his pickup truck on Pleasant Hill Road near U.S. 17-92 in Poinciana. The suspect is still at large.
The event began Saturday, Sept. 3, at 4 p.m. on the corner of Pleasant Hill Road and Green Tree Drive (just south of the John Young Parkway) in Poinciana. Along the way, the organized event had directional signs placed at every mile increment from Poinciana showing where to drive, park, walk and stand. People, however, began to arrive at least 60 to 90 minutes before the start. To help bring further attention to the event, participants were asked to use yellow in everything that was brought to the march, such as posters, balloons, flowers. It was requested that posters reflect what losing Burch had meant. Participants were asked to also wear a “Levi Memorial T-shirt” shirt, if possible. At dusk, candles were provided for a candlelight vigil.
By 5 p.m., more than 60 people stood along the side of the road where the incident had occurred. They held hand-written posters bearing a variety of messages. Some paid tribute to Levi. Others bore statements that they were present because Levi was not. Still other signs asked anyone having possible information to please contact law enforcement, and that there was reward money. In addition to the posters, said Lora Donley, Levi Burch Fund organizer and close family friend, the two lead detectives with the Osceola Sheriff’s Office would also attend and distribute approximately 3,000 flyers. By the time the candlelight vigil was held, more than 110 people participated.
As to be expected, it was an emotional day for many, in particular, Lynn and Ingrid Burch, Levi’s father and stepmother.
“We’re just trying to rattle somebody’s cage, let the community know there’s a murderer among us,” said Lynn Burch.
He added that his son was the archetype all-American kid; one who had graduated with honors from high school, an industrious youth, holding down a job while also attending college, who wanted to be a game warden when he graduated college.
As vehicles drove by, many of them honking car horns in support, Lynn Burch held aloft his poster. His read (sic), “The Family Name ENDED On September 5th — Please Help Us — “ The frustration was manifest on his face and in his voice.
“I don’t understand it, how somebody could be so cold,” he said, and then grew angry. “It pisses you off this guy’s still free and I don’t have a son anymore.”
According to Donley, the vigil achieved at least two objectives.
“First, the vigil was a wonderful tribute to Levi. A year later, we wanted his family to be reminded just how many people loved him,” she said. Second, it prompted responses. “Leads did come in to the Osceola Sheriff’s Office.” However, the sheriff’s office, she added, would not indicate what information those leads contained. Donley was pleased that the vigil perhaps triggered a memory or prompted someone’s conscious to come forward with information. To those people, Donley said, they need to know his family and friends worked hard to raise the reward money and that those who knew and loved Levi will not give up until the responsible person is found.”
Lynn Burch is also resolute.
“If it takes one year or 20 years, I’ll stand out here. Whatever it takes,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”
To learn more, or have a tip
Those with information about the case are asked to call CrimeLine at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477). It can be done anonymously; or go online at: www.crimeline.org, or call Lora Donley at (863) 412-4121.
“We have up to $20,000 to give to anyone who has information.,” Donley said. “It’s so easy. They just need to call CrimeLine.”
Burch’s case has also been featured on America’s Most Wanted web site (http://www.amw.com/fugitives/case.cfm?id=74787).