(08/18/2001)
A Freedom of Information request has been submitted to the West Virginia State Police by The Hur Herald regarding the unattended death of thirty-nine-year old Stephen O. Burner of Creston, Wirt County. Burner's mother, Madalene Calvert Burner of Parkersburg has also requested information through the Freedom of Information Act.

Burner's body was discovered on July 2 at his cottage along the Little Kanawha River near the Village of Creston by one or more of his friends.

Mrs. Burner said her son had been attempting to seek treatment for his drug problem, and had gone with a relative to Westbrook Mental Health in Parkersburg two weeks prior to his death. Her nephew, who accompanied Burner to the assessment, said he was concerned because he could not get clean and that "friends were cooking crystal meth at his house."

Burner cottage near Creston

Mrs. Burner said "I need to understand what happened. I'm surprised the case has been closed. It has been 47 days since he died." She has been unable to obtain the death certificate or the results of the autopsy. She said police had names of subjects associated with her son, after some of them discovered his body.

Trooper lst Class William Marshall told The Herald, since the death was unattended, "We treat it as a suspicious circumstance." Marshall said the toxicology and autopsy report would be available on July 18, but then advised there was a delay. Since that time numerous calls and fax requests have been unanswered.

Burner's mother said information was given to the area's drug task force, who later told the family they were surprised the investigation had been concluded by the State Police. She said Trooper Marshall did say the toxicology report stated he had a drug-induced death with cirrhosis of the liver, dying from natural causes due to drugs. It said he had a cut on his head, which was minor.

The mother said her son had struggled with an alcohol and drug problem for several years and had multiple DUI arrests. "He had managed to stay off alcohol for a long time, but the toxicology report said he had been drinking," she said.

Ms. Burner said she and her family have turned to other agencies for help, including the FBI, the West Virginia Attorney General's office and the State Medical Examiner. "I have a lot of concerns for people who suffer from addiction. Somehow, it doesn't seem right what has happened with my son's case," she concluded.


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