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New details released on 2 suspects in doctor’s Las Vegas death

Updated April 12, 2019 - 9:06 pm

Two people sought in the killing of a 71-year-old doctor whose body was found in a nearby desert were roommates of a Las Vegas woman arrested in connection with his death, police said.

Arrest warrants for Diana Pena and Jon Kennison were issued April 5 after their fingerprints were found on the blue Mercedes-Benz C300 that Thomas Burchard’s body was found in near Lake Mead National Recreation Area on March 7, according to two 10-page arrest warrants obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Burchard, a longtime California child psychiatrist, traveled to Las Vegas on March 1 to visit 25-year-old Kelsey Nichole Turner, with whom he had an intimate relationship, police said.

Cellphone records indicate the Salinas, California man was last active on his phone on March 3. He never returned to California on March 4, the day he had planned to go home.

Officers found his body three days later, at around 10:51 a.m., in the trunk of Turner’s 2017 two-door Mercedes, parked on a high-centered dirt berm, the report said.

On the right passenger seat, officers found several bloodied blue latex gloves and clothing, as well as evidence of a fire. Blood had also spattered on the driver’s seat headrest and in the backseat.

Police also found Pena’s employee card from Caesars Palace, where she worked as a bartender and last showed up for a shift on March 6, the warrants said.

In the trunk, Burchard’s body was found partially clothed and covered with clothes and bedding, according to the reports. His house keys and vest were also found.

The Clark County coroner determined Burchard had died from blunt force trauma to the head, and the weapon used against him had created a pattern on his head.

Phone records indicate Turner, Pena and Kennison, who was Turner’s boyfriend, abruptly moved out of the house, the warrants said.

Police said the group likely stayed at the Rio before each turning off their cellphones, and that Pena had checked into a room on March 4.

Bags found at the Rio contained five pieces of paper with Burchard’s name on them, removed from his planner where he kept financial notes and password information, the report said. Turner’s driver’s license and Pena’s prescription bottles were also found.

Turner’s residence reeked of ammonia, the report said, and a search showed that many items in the house matched evidence at the scene, including a blue-and-white striped bath towel that was located with Burchard’s body, items with Kennison’s name on it and a bloody door that had been ripped off its hinges, the report said.

Turner and Kennison fled the state, and police believe Pena did too.

Turner was arrested on March 21 in Stockton, California in connection with Burchard’s death.

San Joaquin County Jail records on Friday afternoon showed Turner was no longer in custody at the jail, where she had been awaiting extradition to Clark County since her March 21 arrest in Stockton, California.

Metro spokesman Larry Hadfield said he had no information to release Friday regarding Turner’s extradition.

Pena and Kennison face charges of open murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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