SILENT WITNESS

Phoenix teen girl’s 1978 death remains open case

Jul 6, 2020, 12:00 PM
(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix, AZ USA)...
(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix, AZ USA)
(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix, AZ USA)

The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was president. The BeeGees’ album “Saturday Night Fever” spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on the charts and “Fantasy Island” debuted on ABC.

And on March 11 of that year, a teenaged Phoenix girl spent her last day alive on this earth.

Pauline Robbin Burgette was home alone at a duplex near 26th Street and McDowell Road and friends and neighbors said they saw her at various times of the day.

The next day her family found her dead.

Detectives have very little to go on. Phoenix Police Sgt. Derek Elmore said it’s possible someone with information may have thought this case was solved.

“Someone, possibly, could have been afraid to talk,” he said.

“Now that we have some time and distance from the crime, hopefully they’ll come forward, not only for the girl’s family but for the community as a whole because there’s still someone out there who committed this crime who isn’t being held accountable.”

Read more about this case.


Our next case happened in February 2013 at a warehouse belonging to the Deer Valley School District near Deer Valley Road and 21st Avenue.

“It’s one of those unusual things that you think would’ve stood out if the person was trying to resell the items they took,” Elmore said.

They took Freon, and no small amount.

“They took 110 canisters and these are big canisters,” Elmore said.

The thief or thieves would’ve needed to plan this out and they would have needed a vehicle big enough to haul this size of a load. We’re talking about more than $50,000 worth of Freon.

This article originally appeared Dec. 22, 2014.

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Phoenix teen girl’s 1978 death remains open case