ABC’s 20/20: Kelsey Turner – Dr. Thomas Burchard Murder

Dr Thomas Burchard Murder

Dr. Thomas Burchard Murder – Authorities failed to explain why a charismatic 71-year-old child psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Burchard, would have been attacked and murdered.

However, as they began to investigate who could have brutally murdered the doctor, shocking details about his private life began to emerge, painting a bleak picture. Kelsey Turner thoroughly examines the tragic circumstances surrounding Dr. Burchard’s murder and the exhaustive investigation that eventually led police to his killers on ABC’s true crime series “20/20” episode “Kelsey Turner.” Here is everything you need to know about Dr. Thomas Burchard’s murder, including who the perpetrators were.

Must Read: Where Is Convicted Killer Kelsey Turner Now?

Dr. Thomas Burchard
Dr. Thomas Burchard

What Caused Dr. Thomas Burchard’s Death?

Dr. Thomas Kirk Burchard was born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 16, 1948. Then he spent his formative years in Virginia, where his father held teaching positions at both the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the College of Architecture at Virginia Tech. After completing medical school, he specialized in child psychology and worked as a Resident Child Psychiatrist at several prestigious institutions nationwide. Dr. Thomas was on staff at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California, for forty years, where he specialized in treating children with mental health issues.

Dr. Thomas was fondly remembered by his family, friends, and coworkers for his generosity and friendliness, particularly towards children, and his enjoyment of performing magic tricks for them. In addition, he had a reputation for being a selfless individual who prioritized the needs of others over his own. The untimely death of the Salinas resident directly resulted from his generosity. A man called 911 early on March 7, 2019, to report an abandoned Mercedes-Benz on a gravel road near Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada.

The windows were rolled up, and there was what appeared to be burned material on the passenger seat when the police arrived. As they observed blood on the rear seat and driver’s headrest, they opened the trunk and discovered clothing and bedding with a foul odor. As they were removed, they revealed the 71-year-old body of Dr. Thomas, who had been brutally beaten and bruised. A portion of his ear was severed, and he was covered in defensive wounds on his face, neck, arms, and upper chest. The official autopsy quickly determined that Dr. Thomas’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Who Killed Dr Thomas Burchard
Jon Kennison and Kelsey Turner

Who Killed Dr. Thomas Burchard and Why?

As the investigation progressed, it was confirmed that Kelsey Turner, a model and Instagram influencer better known by her stage name Badd Barbie, was the owner of the Mercedes-Benz in which Dr. Thomas’ body was discovered. The detectives searched for the 25-year-old woman and her boyfriend, Jon Kennison, at their Las Vegas residence, but neither of them was there. In addition, they discovered blood splattered on the wall and bed frame in one of the rooms. This led them to Kelsey’s mother, who confirmed that her daughter and Dr. Thomas had been longtime friends.

In addition to providing financial assistance, the 71-year-old also bought the model’s mother and son a rental home in Salinas, where they resided for a year before relocating to Las Vegas. Judy Earp, the seventeen-year girlfriend of Dr. Thomas, was interviewed by authorities and disclosed disturbing details about his relationship with Kelsey. The Child Psychiatrist reportedly contacted the model online and began providing financial assistance after learning of her struggles to support her two young children alone. Judy asserted that her boyfriend co-signed the lease on the model’s Salinas home, helped her obtain a car loan, and paid her monthly rent.

Judy claimed that Kelsey took advantage of Dr. Thomas’s generosity and used him as a “sugar daddy” for her, despite Dr. Thomas’s insistence that their relationship was platonic. However, complications arose when the Child Psychiatrist’s girlfriend decided she did not like Kelsey and urged him to stop paying for her medical expenses. He stopped communicating with her and stopped paying her rent in response. Judy claims that Kelsey then began extorting Dr. Thomas by filing false police reports about his behavior with minors.

The 71-year-old capitulated to the model’s demands, despite the unfounded nature of the allegations. Kelsey ultimately left Salinas at the end of the year, bringing her son and lover to Las Vegas. However, it appears that the latter began to cause her problems just before she left. She frequently contacted Dr. Thomas from Las Vegas to complain about her boyfriend’s abuse and her inability to provide for her children. Her previous benefactor felt sorry for her, so he went to see the model despite Judy’s warnings.

Diana Pena
Diana Pena

On March 1, 2019, Dr. Thomas visited Kelsey, her son, her boyfriend Jon Kennison, and their roommates Diana Pena and Jeremy Escherich at their Las Vegas apartment. Unfortunately, this was the last time Judy saw him alive; six days later, he was discovered dead. Kelsey and her roommates were prime suspects in the murder due to her adversarial history with the Child Psychiatrist and their knowledge of his last known location. The authorities were able to deduce that they had fled the state on purpose, so they listed them as wanted fugitives for various crimes. After a lengthy manhunt, a fugitive task force located Kelsey in Stockton on March 21, 2019.

Diana turned herself into the police in the middle of April, and on April 17, despite Jon’s protests of innocence, the police arrested him. Each of the three suspects was formally arrested and charged with first-degree murder with a deadly weapon for an attack on a victim aged 60 or older. Kelsey and Jon steadfastly refused to enter guilty pleas in June of this year. In contrast, Diana pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of accessory to murder and offered to testify against her former friends. Throughout the trial, she swore and described what had occurred to Dr. Thomas in March of this year.

Diana asserts that the 71-year-old visited Kelsey at her Las Vegas home to ensure she was okay, but the next day when Jeremy’s girlfriend moved in, and they became friendly, things began to deteriorate. The model allegedly took offense and started a fight with her roommate’s partner, accusing her of attempting to “snatch” Dr. Thomas from her. The situation deteriorated when, on the evening of March 2, she discovered inflammatory messages on his phone. After finding a pornographic photo exchange between Dr. Thomas and her, Kelsey and her mother got into a massive argument.

The model’s roommate continued by stating that Kelsey threatened to report Dr. Thomas to the police and hospital administration if he did not pay her money. Since she was upset, he closed and slammed the door to one of the rooms, which only escalated their conflict. As Jon finally forced his way inside, Dr. Thomas received a direct baseball bat blow to the head. After receiving only one blow to the head, his skull was severely injured and bleeding, so he insisted on going to the hospital and promised to lie and say he had been robbed.

Diana testified that Dr. Thomas informed her that the model threatened his life while they waited for Jon and Kelsey in the car below. When they returned downstairs, they instructed her to clean up the fight’s aftermath before leaving for the hospital. However, she soon heard Kelsey’s voice outside, yelling at her boyfriend to use the bat to knock out Dr. Thomas. Anticipating the worst, Diana rushed outside, only to find Jon standing there with a revolver in his hand and blood splattered on his clothing. She was shocked to learn that he had killed Dr. Thomas by beating him.

After Kelsey told a sobbing Diana to clean up the situation, the two women spent the night at Diana’s boyfriend’s house with the model’s young son. Kelsey, Diana, and Jon spent the next three days in various motels and friends’ homes before arriving in California, where the model was promptly detained. Jon Kennison accepted a plea bargain and pled guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy in July 2022, following Diana’s confession. He was sentenced to 18–45 years in prison.

Diana was released in 2019 after pleading guilty, but she faces a maximum of three years of probation beginning in January 2023. In November of 2022, Kelsey Turner pleaded guilty and agreed to a negotiated sentence in an Alford plea deal. She will begin serving her sentence for second-degree murder, for which she pleaded guilty, in January 2023. According to official records, Kelsey is currently incarcerated at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility in Las Vegas. Jon is also detained at the High Desert State Prison, which is located near Indian Springs.

Also Like: Cooper Mills Harris Murder: Where Is Killer Justin Ross Harris Now?