SILENT WITNESS

Phoenix police hoping for leads in 1978 murder case

May 17, 2021, 10:30 AM | Updated: 2:30 pm
Robbin Burgette (Silent Witness Photo)...
Robbin Burgette (Silent Witness Photo)
(Silent Witness Photo)

This article originally appeared May 16, 2016.

“I have a very distinct memory of that day,” Chad Burgette said. “It’s as clear as if it was yesterday.”

When he was 11, he returned to his family’s apartment and opened the door to a horrific scene: His 16-year-old sister, Robbin, murdered.

“I don’t believe I will ever be able to un-see that,” he said.

Phoenix police cold case Detective Clark Schwartzkopf calls the murder a crime of brutality.

Robbin was killed in March 1978 at an apartment near 26th Street and McDowell Road, where she lived with her mom and brother. They’d been away for the weekend while she baby-sat at an apartment on the west side of Phoenix.

“She had been brought back home early,” Schwartzkopf said. “And we know there were problems at the other complex with a gentleman making advances on her while she was baby-sitting there for the three weeks before her murder.”

Burgette described his sister as very outgoing.

“She loved life and loved being outdoors,” he said. “She hated wearing shoes and loved the hot summers. She was a great sister and she was my friend.”

Burgette said their single mother didn’t have a lot of money.

“Our weekends were spent at Saguaro Lake,” he said. “We’d swim and spend the night there. We also did a lot of horseback riding at South Mountain.”

Just three years after his sister’s murder, Burgette’s mother, a diabetic, passed away. He said she never got over Robbin’s death. It devastated her and she stopped taking her insulin.

Schwartzkopf said there is DNA evidence from the murder scene but there has been no match so far. Officers need leads on where else to look for a possible match. Investigators believe there were at least two people present when the murder happened.

“It’s time they paid their debt to society and paid their debt to my family,” Burgette said.

Read more about the case here.

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Phoenix police hoping for leads in 1978 murder case