Lead in missing student search

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2002

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.-- The West Virginia State Police are now following a possible lead in the disappearance of a Marshall University student.

Two escapees from the Hopkins County Jail in Kentucky, Branden L. Basham and Chadrick Fulks, are believed to have been in Huntington. The pair escaped from the jail Nov. 4, one week before Samantha Burns, 19, of West Hamlin last contacted her mother at 9:46 p.m.

At this time, there is no evidence to link Basham and Fulks to Burns, but law enforcement officials are trying to explore every possible avenue in finding Burns, Senior Trooper Jay Powers, media spokesman for the West Virginia State Police, said. Police are now trying to either eliminate or confirm that the two are suspects.

Email newsletter signup

Basham was captured in Ashland, Ky., after he allegedly fired shots at an Ashland Police officer at the Ashland Town Center Sunday. Police arrived after they received a call that a white male was attempting to steal an automobile from two women.

According to a release from the Ashland Police Department, Fulks and Basham are suspects in possible abductions in Hopkins County, Ky., and in Conway, S.C. In the alleged abduction of James Hawkins, 42, of Hanson, Ky., the two suspects allegedly drove the man to Evansville, Ind., and left him tied to a tree. The victim managed to free himself and notify authorities.

Alice Donovan, 44, of Galivants Ferry, S.C., who vanished from a South Carolina Wal-Mart parking lot, has not been found. Her car, a blue 1994 BMW 318i with South Carolina plates 845-HLG has not been recovered.

Monday night, Ohio Highway Patrol troopers in Marion County observed a late model BMW with West Virginia plates 4DK302 parked in a northbound rest area on U.S. 23. A check of the vehicle revealed that it was stolen and possibly linked to abductions, according to information from the patrol.

Troopers attempted to stop the vehicle when it crossed the median and traveled southbound on U.S. 23. After a failed attempt with "Stop Sticks," a tire deflating device, officers lost sight of the vehicle. The car received underbody damage and began losing fluids as it left the scene.

Basham, a Class D felon already serving a 5-year sentence for writing a bad check, is being held on a $2 million bond on charges of attempted robbery, criminal attempt to commit murder of an officer, and fleeing or alluding a police officer. Fulks, a county inmate who was awaiting trial on robbery charges, is a white male with light brown hair and blue eyes. He is 6 feet tall, and weighs 200 pounds. He is considered armed and dangerous.

The 19-year-old Marshall University sophomore's 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier was found in flames early last week in Wayne County, W.Va. Hundreds of volunteers and West Virginia law enforcement officials have searched the area, but have found no sign of Burns. Burns has brown hair and hazel eyes, is 5'4" tall, and weighs 110 pounds. Family and friends have offered a $35,000 reward.