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California doctor paid rent for woman accused in his killing

Updated March 31, 2019 - 4:25 pm

The 71-year-old California psychiatrist whose body was found near Las Vegas in early March paid rent for the woman accused of killing him, according to his longtime girlfriend.

Judy Earp said Dr. Thomas Burchard signed a lease for 25-year-old Kelsey Turner in Salinas, California, because Turner told him she couldn’t qualify. The Salinas doctor ended up paying Turner’s rent for months, Earp said Saturday.

Tuner was arrested in connection with Burchard’s death on March 21 in Stockton, California, by Las Vegas detectives and California FBI members.

Facebook and Instagram accounts that appeared to be Turner’s identify her as a model who lived in Las Vegas and appeared in magazines such as Playboy Italia and Maxim.

Earp on Saturday criticized some reporting on the case, specifically referencing an anonymous source reported by California TV station KSBW, and saying that the source was not close to the family.

“Most of the information out there on social media, and from some of the media sources, is absolutely so far off, nowhere near the truth,” Earp said.

Earp said that Burchard was paying Turner’s rent because “he helped a lot of people,” and Turner “had this real sad story of ‘Oh, I can’t qualify for a lease because I have bad credit.’”

She said Turner got about $300,000 from Burchard over the time they knew each other.

“She took the $300,000,” Earp said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Turner was evicted from the home in Salinas, but it was unclear when.

“The reason he quit paying the rent was because the lease was up,” Earp said of Burchard. “He has told her several months before that he was not going to continue. He actually paid her money to leave.”

Earp did not elaborate on how Turner knew Burchard but said she “did not believe she was a patient of his.” She also said she didn’t want to say anything that would hinder the criminal investigation.

Burchard’s body was found March 7 in the trunk of an abandoned vehicle in a desert area along East Lake Mead Boulevard, about 7 miles east of Los Feliz Street. He died from blunt force injury to the head, and his death was ruled a homicide, the Clark County coroner’s office has said.

An arrest warrant for Turner was issued March 15, Las Vegas Justice Court records show.

Turner remained in the San Joaquin County Jail on Saturday, awaiting extradition to Clark County, jail records show. She faces a murder charge, and is scheduled to appear in Stockton court on April 8.

Further information about Turner’s arrest, or how detectives identified her as a suspect, was not immediately available. When reached Thursday night, Turner’s family declined to comment.

Burchard had worked near Salinas with Monterey, California-based Montage Health for nearly 40 years in the medical nonprofit’s behavioral health program, spokeswoman Mary Barker has said in a statement.

In a March interview with the Review-Journal, Earp said she and Burchard traveled the country together, often for medical or magic conferences, as the doctor’s hobby was performing magic tricks. The two most recently visited Las Vegas for a medical conference in February, she said.

The Metropolitan Police Department has asked anyone with information about Burchard’s death to contact Metro’s homicide section at 702-828-3521. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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