Details of Disappearance
Burns was last seen working in a boutique in the 18800 block of Bothwell Way northeast in Bothell, Washington on the evening of December 13, 1977. Because of a scheduling mixup, there was no one working with her that day.
At 9:00 p.m., when Burns's sister-in-law came to help her close the store for the night, Burns was gone. The store's lights were out, the doors were unlocked and 29 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition were scattered around the building's interior.
Burns's car was found undisturbed in the parking lot. Her eyeglasses and one of her earrings were inside the store fitting room, and her purse was missing. She has never been heard from again.
Authorities announced they were seeking a person for questioning; he was described as 6'3 to 6'4 tall, with dark brown hair, brown eyes and an angular face. He had been witnessed talking to Burns at the store before she disappeared.
Robert Elmore Taylor is the prime suspect in Burns's disappearance. A convicted murderer, he had escaped from a Michigan prison and in January 1978, he robbed a Bothell massage parlor at gunpoint and abducted two of its female employees. One of them was able to get the gun away from him and shot him twice in the abdomen, and he was arrested.
When police searched his residence, they found clothing that had been stolen from Burns's store hanging in his closet, as well as merchandise which had been purchased with Burns's credit cards. Sales clerks identified Taylor as the person who bought the items, signing Burns's husband's name on the credit card slips, and the writing on the receipts matched Taylor's.
Taylor was convicted of kidnapping and robbery in the massage parlor case and sentenced to 240 years in prison. He was never charged in Burns's disappearance because authorities couldn't find her body and because the other charges ensured he would spend the rest of his life behind bars. He was murdered by another inmate in 1979. The investigation into Burns's case stagnated after Taylor's death.
Burns's body has never been found, but foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.