Keith Burley

State police say two boys witnessed the stabbing death of an 8-year-old boy Monday night in a Union Township home.

The boys, ages 15 and 8, told police they were home alone playing video games upstairs in their family's house on High Street when they heard someone enter. They went downstairs to see Keith L. Burley Jr. there with two other boys, and he was holding a gun, according to a report they gave the police.

The older boy told police he knew Burley from past meetings he had with their mother, according to a criminal complaint the state police filed this morning against Burley. He said Burley instructed them to look for the magazine of the gun and they ran into a bedroom to search.

The teen told police that as he and his brother were coming out of the bedroom, he saw what he thought was Burley hitting one of the young children. As the two brothers ran toward the door and neared Burley, they saw he was stabbing 8-year-old Mark Edward Mason, they reported. The younger youth described the weapon as a pink camouflage knife, the report said.

Both boys told police that Burley ran from the house after that, the court papers state.

State police have charged Burley, 43, of Edinburg, with criminal homicide and after an overnight manhunt U.S. Marshals arrested him this morning in Youngstown. In addition to the homicide charge, state police also have charged him with two counts each of aggravated assault, kidnapping to inflict terror and unlawful restraint, three counts of terroristic threats, four counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of simple assault.

He is currently lodged in the Mahoning County jail awaiting extradition. He is to be arraigned on all of the charges later this week.

Less than half an hour before the alleged stabbing, Burley had allegedly been in an argument with the boy's 36-year-old mother — believed to have been his girlfriend — in the parking lot of the New Castle Fire Station around 10:40 p.m. Burley allegedly struck the woman several times, then he took her car, a black Buick Encore, with her two sons inside and drove them to the house at 60 High St. in Union Township

A 911 call, placed by one of the juveniles at that house, regarding the stabbing was received about 10 to 12 minutes after Burley left the fire department lot, according to information that Lawrence County Deputy Coroner Rich "R.J." Johnson provided this morning.

When police and emergency medical services arrived at the High Street home, the boy was found dead on the kitchen floor, Johnson reported.

The younger brother told police that he ran out the front door of the house toward the K Pulaski Club and flagged down police, telling them that "Bud," a nickname for Burley, had stabbed his brother.

Johnson said the deceased child apparently suffered multiple stab wounds. An autopsy was performed today at Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver County.

The New Castle Fire Department reportedly has surveillance video of the alleged domestic assault in the parking lot. The mother was taken to UPMC Jameson for treatment for her injuries.

New Castle police took the initial call for the domestic and responded to it, New Castle Police Department Chief Bobby Salem said, and they also assisted at the scene in Union Township, but the incident is being investigated by the state police.

Burley was on parole from a 1999 robbery shooting death when Monday night's incident occurred, according to state police. He had pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and having a gun without a license, and he served the minimum in a state correctional institution for a 20- to 40-year prison term. He had been released from prison within the past couple of months.

Mason was formerly a student at the Lockley Early Learning Center until his family moved to Shenango Township. He was enrolled in the Shenango Area School District.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com


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Reporter

Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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