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  1. #1
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    TX - Ryan Burton, 3, Breckenridge, 6 Sept 1981

    I came across this case while doing further research into Sharon Marshall. I don't understand why this is the first I am reading or hearing of the case, as her parents took the case of their daughter's disappearance all the way to Congress.
    ...In May of '82, Congress declared a National Missing Children's Day to bring attention to Ryan Burton and other missing children.
    Ryan, a blonde 3 year-old girl, was asleep in her bed in Breckenridge, TX on the evening of Sept 6th 1981. Her parents were out for the evening. Her 11 year-old brother was home, as was their teenage babysitter. Sometime during the evening, Ryan vanished. Her parents returned home to find police cars in their driveway.
    There was still no evidence or clues a year later when the Burtons took their child's case to Congress.
    This is excerpted from the Gettysburg (PA) Times, June 23rd, 1982. National Missing Children's Day was enacted by Ronald Reagan on May 25th, 1983, in honor of the day Etan Patz disappeared. Some of the events leading to NMC Day were also the disappearance of Adam Walsh (July '81) and the Atlanta child murders. I can find no reference to Ryan Burton or her family.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2005
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    I found a website for the county that she's missing from and I e-mailed the lady who runs the website to see if she had anymore information. I find it really odd that there is absolutely nothing out there about her.

    ETA: I also searched for her on the ncmec website and she's not listed there as being missing. Maybe she was found?


    Happiness...consists in giving, and in serving others.
    - Henry Drummond

  3. #3
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    Hi, I e-mailed ncmec last night and they sent me this reply:

    Ryan Burton is not listed with NCMEC as missing. This may be because
    NCMEC was not created until 1984. We have very few cases of children
    missing prior to 1984. In order for NCMEC to get involved in Ryan
    Burton's case either the child's parent or law enforcement should
    contact our Call Center at 1-800-843-5678 to make a report.

    Thank you,
    NCMEC Call Center

    I e-mailed a few more people asking about her and I'm in the process of looking for a library in that town to see if they have anymore info.


    Happiness...consists in giving, and in serving others.
    - Henry Drummond

  4. #4
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    Ok, I finally got to the bottom of it. I called the Breckenridge Library and the man there told me that they don't have any newspaper articles from that time period but he gave me the phone number to the Swinson Museum. I called them and the lady that answered told me that she remembered the case because her daughter had just got a divorce in 1981 and moved back into Breckenridge and her granddaughter was the same age as Ryan so she was concerned for her granddaughter's safety. According to this lady, three or four years later Ryan's body was found along the edge of a golf course by some workers who were clearing brush. I asked her if she had just wandered off or if she was taken and she said without a doubt, she was taken and dumped there. She said that if you'd like more information you could mail them a letter at:

    Swinson Memorial Museum
    P.O. Box 350
    Breckenridge, TX 76424

    She said they keep odd and unusual newspaper clippings and that that was a big thing when this little girl disappeared so she was sure they'd have articles on it. It's sad that it turned out this way but at least her parents know where she is .


    Happiness...consists in giving, and in serving others.
    - Henry Drummond

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the info, Paradise (and I didn't get you anything! ) It still seems strange that there is absolutely no info out there since the parents were so involved with getting NMC Day off the ground. I will definitely be in touch with the museum.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2004
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    Thank you Shadowangel and Paradise for posting this information about Ryan Burton!!!

    I don't know how to explain this, but here goes.....

    I have been interested in missing persons since I was very, very young. The moment that I really recall this interest starting is when I read an issue of Parade Magazine that came as an insert in the Houston Chronicle. The cover story in Parade was about missing children and featured a young blonde girl in Texas who was abducted from her bedroom. I have never forgotten about this article or this child and always wanted to find out what happened to her. I guess this child just represents the first time that I remember becoming truly aware of the evil that exists in the world and that strangers do really abduct children.

    Several years ago when I starting getting into WS's and other similar sites, I wanted to search for the young blonde girl that I remembered from so long ago. Only I had a problem. I couldn't remember the girl's name and I had no idea of the exact year in which she was abducted. I thought her first or last name might be Ryan, I new she was a toddler when she went missing from her home in Texas and I started reading the daily newspaper when I was nine so I kind of knew a time frame (I would have been eleven when Ryan Burton went missing), but that didn't give me much to go on.

    I have done searches on every missing persons website that I could find looking for this girl. I have scanned hundreds of photos and read stories of missing children and have never been able to find anything. I always knew that I would recognize her picture or her story if I ever came across it. I was recently thinking of trying to obtain the original article from Parade, but thanks to you guys, I think I finally know who my mystery child is. I might still get that old issue of Parade as well as write a letter to the Swinsom Memorial Museum. Thanks again!!!

  7. #7
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    The article below appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram on June 20, 1992 and contains information about Ryan Burton. You have to register and pay to read the entire article so I have only copied and pasted a portion of it. PM me if you would like to see the article in it's entirety.

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    June 20, 1992


    Edition: STATE AM
    Section: TEXAS
    Page: 21





    Man charged in 1982 slaying of store clerk

    Author: Richard Dotson; Kathy Sanders; Star-Telegram Writer

    Article Text:




    FORT WORTH - A man who says he kidnapped Breckenridge toddler Ryan Nicole Burton, who vanished from her crib 11 years ago, was charged with capital murder yesterday in the 1982 slaying of a Fort Worth convenience store clerk.
    Manuel Fernandez, 35, was being held in the Tarrant County Jail last night in lieu of $100,000 bail in the slaying of 20-year-old Sherry Ellen Rowland, officials said.

    Earlier in the day, Breckenridge police questioned him at the jail after learning from Fort Worth police that Fernandez had come into the police station about 11 p.m. Thursday. He told an officer and a reporter at the front desk that he needed to turn himself in because he had abducted and killed 3-year-old Ryan. No one was ever charged in that case, despite a nationwide manhunt that involved Texas Rangers and the FBI.

    There was no word yesterday evening on whether Breckenridge police plan to charge Fernandez.

    Earlier yesterday, Fort Worth homicide investigator Danny LaRue said Fernandez seemed to know details of the case.

    "I killed a 3-year-old girl 10 years ago," Fernandez told the police officer and reporter Thursday night.

    And while describing that crime, Fernandez, of Fort Worth, also said he had raped and fatally shot a 7-Eleven clerk in a 1982 robbery on Eighth Avenue. That case has also remained unsolved despite several arrests that never resulted in charges.

    Fernandez said he committed the crimes because he was drunk and didn't know what he was doing.

    "I'm just an alcoholic," Fernandez said. "That's why I got into Victory Outreach (a street mission on the North Side.) I couldn't live with something like that (the girl's death) the rest of my life.

    "I feel better because I want to give my life over to Jesus," Fernandez said. "I don't know what was wrong with me, doing it. It was the alcohol."

    His statements come almost eight years to the day after Ryan Nicole Burton was buried in Breckenridge, whose 7,000 residents were devastated by the mysterious abduction of the 3-year-old from her crib.

    The girl's whereabouts remained a mystery until June 15, 1984, when her skeletal remains were found in a pasture behind a golf course about two miles from her home.

    Although Fernandez was wrong about the date of the girl's abduction - he said it was Sept. 3, 1981, when it was actually Sept. 6 - he said he knew the little girl because the Burtons lived across the street from Fernandez's sister.

    He said he was extremely drunk the night he went into the Burton house, walked past a sleeping baby sitter and lifted the girl from her crib.

    Ryan's parents, Bud and Helen Burton, were in Arlington at a baseball game and had left their two children with a 12-year-old baby sitter.

    Helen Burton declined to comment yesterday on the latest developments in the case. Attorney Jimmy Browning, for whom she works as a receptionist, said the mother "has had all she can take. We've always felt it was somebody local."

    Fernandez told police that he was driving his pickup when he abducted Ryan and that after taking her from the house, "I threw her in the truck like she was a doll."

    He said he doesn't remember killing Ryan but does recall hitting her once with his fist.

    He said he drove from the Burton home to "a ranch" and threw the girl out of the moving truck.

    When the baby sitter, Tina Lockhart, awoke and realized that the little girl was missing, the search began, ultimately involving hundreds of Breckenridge residents and local, state and federal officials. A reward of $25,000 yielded no concrete leads.

    Fernandez said Thursday night that shortly after killing the girl, he called Bud Burton to confess, but because he was drunk, no one would believe him. He said police never questioned him.

    At one point in his statement, Fernandez abruptly changed the subject and said he had killed a 17-year-old 7-Eleven clerk with a shotgun he had stolen from a nephew.

    (PM me for rest of the article)


  8. #8
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    Another article below. Again, PM me if you want to read the entire thing.


    Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    November 8, 1992


    Edition: FINAL AM
    Section: METRO
    Page: 25





    Man charged with capital murder of child

    Author: Associated Press

    Article Text:



    BRECKENRIDGE - A man who confessed to the 1981 kidnapping and killing of a 3-year-old Breckenridge girl has been charged with capital murder in that crime.

    Manuel Fernandez, 36, walked into the Fort Worth police station in June and said he had kidnapped and killed Ryan Nicole Burton, who vanished from her crib in 1981. Her body was discovered June 14, 1984, near the Breckenridge Country Club.

    Fernandez also told police he killed a Fort Worth

    convenience-store clerk 10 years ago. In June, he was charged with capital murder in that slaying.


  9. #9
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    Thanks so much for the info, KT Can. How sad.. it seems that a few things done differently could have prevented so much pain. I'm surprised that the teen-aged babysitter didn't become the primary target.

    I hope Paradise is successful in getting Ryan's case a mention on AMW, if for no other reason than to honor her and give parents another wake-up call...


    I wonder if this..."gentleman" had anything to do with the disappearance of Elizabeth Campbell (see the thread below).....???

  10. #10
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    When I e-mailed AMW they had absolutely no information on this case at all. They said that it was most likely because her abduction and the finding of her body all happened before the show first aired. I'm glad I was able to find out what happened though, I honestly thought in the beginning that she was still missing and had slipped through the cracks and was never listed on ncmec. I'd be interested in hearing about anything you got from the Swinson Museum.


    Happiness...consists in giving, and in serving others.
    - Henry Drummond


  11. #11
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    The grand jury no-billed Fernandez, but LE apparently thinks the perp was someone else. From 2007:

    http://www.reporternews.com/news/big...unsolvedmurder

    Death most likely claimed the man responsible for the kidnapping and murder of a 3-year-old Breckenridge girl in 1981, but that knowledge isn't comforting to anyone touched by the event...

    Pendleton, who is now Stephens County constable, and other law enforcement officials who worked on the case narrowed their suspicions to one man within a few months after Ryan disappeared. But they could not gather enough evidence to charge him with a crime. Because he wasn't charged and because he is dead, officials declined to divulge his name...

    One problem was lack of motive. "We couldn't come up with 'why,'" said Larry Mahan, the current police chief who was working as a part-time DA's investigator in 1981...

    With Fernandez cleared and no new leads, the case turned cold again and remains so today.

  12. #12
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    Thank you for posting this information. I am from Breckenridge. However, I was born a few months after Ryan was abducted. I had always heard town rumor's and stories from family about this time. And it was my first experience with the idea of a child could be taken in such a way or harmed like this.

  13. #13
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  14. #14
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  15. #15
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