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-- Megan Garvey and Anthony Pesce

Downtown: Lily Burk, 17 [Updated]

July 26, 2009 |  3:55 pm

LilyburkLily Burk, a 17-year old white girl, was found slain in her car in a parking lot surrounded by warehouses near downtown Los Angeles on the morning of Saturday, July 25, authorities said.

Burk, a student at Oakwood School in North Hollywood, had left her Los Feliz home Friday afternoon about 2:30 p.m to run an errand. More than an hour after picking up exams for her mother, who is an attorney and an adjunct professor at Southwestern University School of Law on Wilshire Boulevard, Burk made separate calls to her parents.

She asked them how to get cash using her credit card at an ATM, police said. Her parents told her to come home.

When she had not returned by 5 p.m., her parents became worried. They contacted Los Angeles police that night. Her body was found in the front passenger seat of her black Volvo shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Sgt. Miguel Arana of the Los Angeles Police Department said there were signs of a struggle inside the car. Burk appeared to have head injuries from striking the passenger side of the front windshield, but the car did not show signs of having been in a crash, he said.

Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said that the cause of death appeared to be blunt-force trauma and that there was "strong evidence" that Burk was killed by 5 p.m. Friday. He declined to disclose more details.

Updated 11:30 a.m. Monday: Los Angeles police arrested Charlie Samuel, a 50-year old black man in connection with Burk's slaying. Sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because the investigation was ongoing, said detectives believed the motive was robbery and that Burk appeared to have been abducted from that area.

Samuel was arrested at 5:30 p.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia  on 3rd Street in downtown Los Angeles -- at least 12 hours before Lily's body was discovered nearby in her black Volvo at 5th and Alameda streets. While in custody, he was arrested again Sunday at 9 p.m. in connection with the homicide, according to sheriff's jail records. He is being held without bail.

 -- Margot Roosevelt and Ruben Vives

Read more: Girl, 17, found slain in car near downtown L.A.

Police continue search for killer of 17-year old Lily Burk

Suspect in Lily Burk's slaying has history of violent crimes, drug problems, police say

Photo: Lily Burk. Credit: Sarah Faulk

The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments (47)

What a shame for her to meet a violent end.

Reminds me of Christina Burmeister, a beloved girl with a future. She was murdered by worthless scum, of course.
I feel so sorry for the family of Lily Burk. It is unfortunate that they had only LAPD to turn to which is like having no police force at all. There is a reason why cities under LAPD juristiction are mostly unliveable. It is a lazy, inept organization full of people who don't care. LAPD will hire anybody, stick a uniform on him and call him a police officer. It's sad.

To ST: Any police force in this country would gladly take an LAPD trained officer. They may be understaffed, but not undertrained. There is no police force in the world that can stop violent crime. If you look at the times noted in the article, it is most likely that she was all ready murdered by the time the parents called the police. The only person at fault here is the murderer. As a parent, I send my deepest condolences to Lilly's family.

something about this story does not jive right with me. somehow the listing of 5p by the parents calling it in to police.....and the other mention of 5p for her possible time of death disturbs me. or am i the only one?

Hang the bastard who did this!

it's a shame what happened to this young lady. This is the first time that I ever read in a news story that the victim is referred to as a 17 year old WHITE girl.
Who ever wrote this stroy should return to school.

Frequent readers of the Homicide Report know that from its inception the report gave the race of victims as well as those suspected and/or convicted of the homicides.

The following is from the Homicide Report's FAQ:

The Homicide Report includes information on race or ethnicity in its weekly lists of homicide victims issued by the Los Angeles County coroner, as well as the name, gender and age of each victim, and the time, place and manner of death. A number of readers have asked why race is included. Some have criticized the practice.

Racial information was once routinely included in news stories about crimes, but in recent decades, newspapers and other media outlets stopped mentioning suspects' or victims' race or ethnicity because of public criticism. Newspapers came to embrace the idea that such information is irrelevant to the reporting of crimes, and may unfairly stigmatize racial groups.

The Homicide Report departs from this rule in the interest of presenting the most complete and accurate demographic picture of who is at risk of dying from homicide in Los Angeles County.

To read more about the decision to include race visit the FAQ section along the right rail of this blog.

The poor girl was carjacked, the Assailant wanted her to get money from her atm and all she had was a Credit card, so she called her parents to see how to get a cash advance, and when that didn't work the kidnapper just killed her. Probably minutes after she called them.

How can this happen in broad daylight? The ATM machines have security cameras, those will show who was there with her if she was attempting to take money out and if someone was close enough to pressure her with a firearm or otherwise into doing it. Is LA this dangerous at 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and if it is we as tourists should be told.

It's a criminal scum-bag.Probably some piece of crap on his 3rd strike.Why aren't the police keeping this trash locked up?.They should serve 100 percent of their sentences.Stupid scum bag.The cops are close to an arrest.He is going down,soon.Probably a black piece of crap.Good bye,scum bag we're coming to get you.Worthless piece of scum.

This is the quickest homicide report I've seen since I have been monitoring this site. Why don't you report other victims information this fast? Seems like race always plays a big role.

Our prayers go out to Lily and her parents. This is heart wrenching.

The Homicide Report, which used to have a full-time reporter dedicated to reporting the blog, has attempted to be timely in posting new homicides. More recently, we have been trying to get posts up more quickly for homicides that have news stories written about them. Another example of a post that went up faster than most is Woodrow Player III, a 22-year black man who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies July 10 and had a post on July 13. We hope to do this more often in order to give readers the opportunity to comment on new homicides. In the vast majority of cases, due to staffing issues that had put the blog on hiatus last year, we rely on weekly summaries from the L.A. County coroner that typically come out Monday morning. We feel that it remains a public service to document to the best of our ability everyone who is killed in the county.

Megan Garvey
Los Angeles Times

This story makes me wonder...again and again....why police insist that a missing teenager must be a runaway! From the info in this story, it sounds like an abduction and murder. Why would they even consider this teen to be a runaway? LAPD is REALLY horrible. If they had paid attention to what the parents had told them, the girl might not have been murdered. My prayers are with the family and friends of this victim.

I am a student at Southwestern and we have all been deeply affected by this. Professor Drooz spoke so highly of her daughter in class all the time. We will have a candlelight vigil tonight for Lily, and we invite all those who knew her, or her family to please join us. We hope the community will come together to remember this beautiful young lady, support the family, and show heartless people such as the one responsible for her death that we won't tolerate it.

Heartbreaking. There are so many people just like this monster walking our streets. They get out of prison, on parole, or to rehab and no one pays any attention to what they are up to. They violate parole and are given a slap on the wrist. The laws need to be changed. These animals should not be given all these chances to harm our children. I am so sad for this family and for this poor young girl. I had an incident a couple of years ago with a violent offender. He was sent to prison for 5 years and the minute he got out he started looking for me. I had a restraining order and a no contact order on file in his parole file. This man was a con man. He convinced his parole officer to give him my address. Luckily I had moved but this man was actually able to contact me by phone. He was finally rearrested and received another 6 years this time. I just wish something could be done about these people. They need to be monitored.

I am REALLY frustrated. If this man was-according to police words- a "carrier criminal", with history of robbery,assault with deadly weapon and kidnapping, HOW come he was free????

This is a matter for a deep investigation. I would like to know all the facts.

She had opportunity to scream and run away, and didn't even say anything to her parents on the phone. I think she wanted to be like a humainitarian hero for this sorry ass loser. The best advice would have been to kick him in the nuts, scream like hell and run away. You don't wait around to find out if some scum is going to play Mr. Nice Guy.

Megan thanks for taking the time out to answer my question. Keep up the good work on keeping us informed on theses tragic stories.

This happens all the time,when a White person is killed they always pinned it on a Black man.The police and the rest of the general public will never know the complete facts.So stop trying to make the Black man the villain!!!!

I was thinking the same thing as in the trenches, this story was posted really fast. This story was posted before the litte black boy that was beaten to death that happened a few days before this incident. What is the point of comments being approved first if comments likes James are still going to be posted "Probably a black piece of crap." It always gets to me when ppl started assuming that a certain ethnicity is responsible for a crime whether it be black or latino. "Minorities" are not the only one who commit crimes.

You want to know why someone with such a long rap sheet is out on the The governor is going to release hundreds of people that need to stay locked up. All with current petty crimes...well just because someone is in jail today for taking a candy bar from a store doesn't mean that he/she does not have a violent past. But his one reason for his/her current incarceration is petty theft, so he or she is able to get out even though this person might just have a 17 page history of violent crimes. So the next time you read about one of these stories and there will be a next time remember that we were the ones that let him or her out. We did stand up and say wait a minute why this person and why now. We did not ask to see his/her rap sheet before this person was released we just wanted him out of jail. So look in the mirror next time it happens and the answer will be your reflection back to you. You don't need a long drawn out investiation just a walk down the hall to the mirror.

"something about this story does not jive right with me. somehow the listing of 5p by the parents calling it in to police.....and the other mention of 5p for her possible time of death disturbs me. or am i the only one?"

No, read it more carefully. They got concerned by 5 p.m., but called it in later that night. Another story said 7 p.m.

This is a tragedy and her parents have my sympathy. It is not surprising this criminal chose a young woman to victimize. A lot of criminals today are targetting woman and elderly people. They consider them defenseless. You have to protect yourself and watch what is going on around you when out. The LAPD can only do so much. It was not there fault this fool was paroled out of prison. It just like the criminal who killed the 4 police officers in Oakland earlier this year, he was on parole.

gemjyor, dont you think its a little odd that his fingerprints were found on her car? Dont you think its a strange coincidence that security cameras show him in the car with her?

Yes, lets pin the accusations for where it lays, to a man who happens to be African-American.

I blame all of the ppl who voted for Arnold. He should have never been elected. Things are only going to get worse. It is ludricous that this man was even free to her this poor innocent girl in the 1st place. He had such a violent history and record he should be locked up for life or in some program.

To the parents of Lily: I want to tell you how sorry and sad I am for you both. I know your pain is so great right now, but I want you to know I am praying for God to confort you both at this very difficult time.

May you find peace in God's loving arms.

As a parent, my heart aches for for the loss and grief Lily's parents must feel.

And as a parent, I'm angered that their irresponsible upbringing of this child may have bred in her a naïveté that got her killed. I read Lily worked at a homeless shelter handing out condoms, lubricants, needles and other “safety supplies”. Mom did pro bono work fighting evictions and other “quality of life” issues for skid row denizens.

This poor, foolish, misled girl probably believed this transient just need a little help and understanding, and wouldn’t harm her if she was kind and supportive. I suspect she still believed that when she calmly called her mom and dad seeking money.

Parents – tell your children there are BAD people in the world that no amount of kindness will reform. If you or your kids want to help, offer to call someone – from a safe distance.

My heart goes out to Lily Burk's family and friends. Charles Samuel didn't just destroy Lily Burk's life, he destroyed the lives of her family and friends.

Additionally, Lily Burk would have grown up to be a productive citizen and taxpayer. Most of the murder victims in L.A. are unproductive tax-taking gang members.

If Charles Samuel had been white, and Lily Burk been black, Samuel would have been charged with a hate crime, in addition to the murder charges. Something to think about.


How dare you blame the victim. IF only, what if. How could you sit at your compter and do that. Most of the time the victim is just that a victim. It is almost always advised to do what your assailant wants you to do in order to try to save your life. If this young lady would have started a fight right there are her car the out come might have been the same, we don't know that for sure. But to write that she had something to do with her death is beyond words. She had a good heart and wanted to help people and did so with some of the most forgotten people in America the homeless. She had no control of her exit from this life, but she had total control of the life she had in the short 17 years here. She lived it wonderfully. She gave from her heart and took nothing in exchange. Do not minimize what she did while here with what she should have done or what a better job her parents could have done. We are all quarterbacks in the walk of life. Given the extra time to anaylize any given situation and we would and could all make different choices.

To her parents:

Had your daughter's flower reached full bloom,
the gifts she would have given us all would have
been matchless.

I can only dimly imagine your pain.

I have two 14 year old daughters and, to save
my sanity, I force myself not to consider that this
could happen to them. But it could.

I keep thinking of your pain and loss and the loss all
of us suffer with this tragedy. It howls in my brain.

In your daughter was the best hope for all of us. We
will miss her talent, humor, grace, imagination and

Take care as best you can.

It's sad that this happened but why is it that they are making such a big deal? This has happened before but because of her race it's a bigger deal . If this person were any other race they would not have got this much attention.


Listen up all of you people writing these awful comments, I go to Oakwood Secondary school and i really feal bad about this. You don't really know how it feels to have seen someone a month ago and than figure out they're dead. I just hope that all of you can change your minds about what you wrote, especially you barbara.

Thank You

Lily, we will always miss you

My heart goes out to Lilly's family. I know nothing can take away that pain but time and even that never completely heals.
All my Love,
Michelle Benavides

barbara, I have been reading and commenting on this blog for the past two years.

To suggest that this poor victim has been "over exposed" is not only an slap in the face to the victim, but your opinion is not founded in fact.

There are many victims listed here that have had far more "publicity" than Ms. Burke has.

And I can guarantee you one thing, the regular readers of this blog grieve for every single one of them!

I'm a long time friend of Greg Burk, Lily's father, and I'd like to take a moment to remind the posters here that their words do not exist in a vacuum. Please try to remember that these are real people, and that they could very easily read what is written here.

I am shocked by the ignorance of race card-pullers like "barbara." Hey, Barb, wake up. Look at the homicide list. Plenty of people of other races are given plenty of attention when they are victims of homicide. it's sad when anyone is murdered. But people like you, Barbara, who have zero class, dignity, grace, or respect, merely spew your ignorant, reverse racist hatred. Shame on you. You are an embarrassment to all thinking people. I hope this poor girl's parents never get their hands on you, because you would deserve everything they'd have for you.

David Baerwald, this is a semi-open blog. Its not for the faint of heart.

i been on this blog since its inception. before the new map. after the hiatus. i can say that this murder did get more exposure in the media than most.

it was in the times within a day. that same weekend it happened, it was in the paper. and has been consistently.

it struck me as odd. lots of young girls have been murdered. lots of kids are killed. why is she different.

then i read that her pops was a journalist.

made me wish all children senselessly murdered had journalist parents...

in the end, these murders are all tragic. the only other one ot get this much hype was the jamal shaw case. but thats because it was crossed with the issue of immigration.

tragedies they are.

So, this vicious beast is going to be charged with a hate crime, right?


Why is it always a big new story when a white girl is killed but if she's black, Latino, or Asian, it barely makes the radar.

Chhuck, theres plenty of black and hispanic victims that have gotten just as much press.

Ms. Burks story seems to have gotten a lot of coverage simply because it is such an unusual homicide.

And then there is that single issue many people don't want to deal with ..... society has become desensitized to black and latino youths getting murdered, simply because it happens every single day.

you guys are all stupid read whats been put out there he took her car by force she didn't let him in. its in the news cause all she did was help people. help the people all of you wouldn't help. her parents thought her to respect all human beings. but this wasn't a gang crime or a drive by shooting she was taken 3 block from where i live in Hancock park. and was killed in day light. you guys are cruel think about her parents. SHE PROB DID MORE FOR THE WORLD WHEN SHE WAS ALIVE THEN YOU GUYS WILL EVER DO.

I don't know Lily Burk I read that she got slain but when I read about her death in Newsweek the article there suprisedme. She was in the brink of her life when murdered but she will be remembered even by does that don't know her. The dead can in many ways but her way of speaking to us is horrifying; any one of can die at any moment in our lives.

I have many mutual friends of Lily's and have met her a number of times. It is a truly sad state of affairs that someone could do something so horrible to such a kind spirit. Lily will be missed dearly.

I don't know why we get racial as if white people don't kill. We have trash in all the races. I feel sorry for the young lady and her family.

I bet that his rap sheet is just the things that we know about. I am pretty sure that this was not the first time that he has committed murder.

At any rate there is absolutely no question about it that it was him. It is utterly ridiculous that we are going to use tax dollars to conduct a lengthy trial for him.

I find it very odd that a couple of you here are trying to play the race card. Dont
even try because the evidence makes this an open and shut case. It is just to bad that we cant just stand him against the wall and shoot him.


About the Reporters
The Homicide Report is compiled using information from the Los Angeles County coroner's office, local law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Times. It is written by Times staff writers.

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