Suspect Charged in Monday Homicide, Body Identified

August 24, 2005 – Posted at 5:12 p.m. CDT

POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- The body of 31-year-old Joseph Bartlett was discovered Monday morning by a Poplar Bluff City Utility worker on a grassy lawn at the intersection of Garfield and Apple Streets. The Butler County Major Case Squad was activated and has been hard at work investigating the murder.

17-year-old Dust D. Burrage has been arrested and faces charges of felony murder and armed criminal action. He was captured Monday evening in Parma, Missouri. While police officials believe they have their killer in custody, the investigation is still ongoing.

"As the suspect fled the scene, he passed by an undeveloped park area that has some tall grass and brush in it. He didn't want to be captured with a gun, so he stated that he threw the gun in this grassy area," said Poplar Bluff Assistant Police Chief Gary Pride.

The grass and brush left officers and volunteers combing the area looking for murder weapon, believed to be a handgun, and a neighborhood on edge.

"People were very forthcoming with information, we were very pleased with how the neighborhood and community pitched in and provided tips for us," said Pride.

Neighbors didn't want to speak to K8 News on camera, but they did say they thought the incident was drug related. Police don't believe that racial tension was a motive.

"It's things that they were aggravated about. They knew one another and it developed into an argument. Something that probably the next day they wouldn't have been mad about, but at the particular time, it escalated to the point where one person felt the need to harm another one," said Pride.

Authorities say the neighborhood where the shooting happened is known for its drug problems, but police officials won't comment whether or not the shooting was drug related.