The Parkman man wanted in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend in June turned himself in to authorities on Tuesday, ending one of the longest manhunts in state history and bringing relief to residents in Somerset and Piscataquis counties. 

Robert Burton, 38, was taken into custody around noon and was being held at the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft on a charge of being a fugitive from justice, according to a sheriff’s office spokesman. Burton also will face a murder charge in connection with the June 5 slaying of Stephanie Ginn Gebo, 37. His  former girlfriend was found dead inside her Parkman home by her two children. He is due in Piscataquis County Superior Court at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Burton entered the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department office and jail complex at 52 Court Street around noon Tuesday.

He walked up to the front door of the county jail, rang the buzzer and said, “I’m Robert Burton and I’m here to turn myself in,” WCSH-TV reported.

Officials were not sure how Burton arrived and were reviewing surveillance video to try to figure it out. Dover-Foxcroft, the county seat, is the largest town in Piscataquis County, with a population of more than 4,200 people, according to the 2010 census.

The TV station, which reviewed Burton’s booking records, said the fugitive looked healthy and weighed 180 pounds – the same weight as when police announced their manhunt on June 5 and said he was a suspect in Ginn Gebo’s murder. 

“(Burton) was walking and talking” and appeared to be in decent shape, a spokesman for the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office told the Associated Press.

Burton’s capture brought relief to the residents of Somerset and Piscataquis counties, particularly the victim’s family.

“It’s been totally on our minds for the last nine weeks,” said Vance Ginn, Stephanie Ginn Gebo’s father. “When is he going to get caught? Where is he? It’s just totally engulfed us the whole time.”

Ginn, who works as a home inspector for insurance companies, said he was returning home from work around 1 p.m. Tuesday when his wife, Angel Ginn, came running out of their house.

“She was yelling at the top of her lungs, ‘Have you heard? Have you heard?’ ” Ginn said. “Immediately my feelings went sky-high.”

Authorities believe Burton has been surviving for the past 68 days by breaking into camps and stealing food to eat. 

A Maine State Police spokesman said detectives interviewed Burton at the jail on Tuesday. He was scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Wednesday at 1 p.m. , Maine attorney general’s office spokesman Timothy Feeley said via email.

The attorney general’s office will prosecute Burton and will seek to have Burton held without bail, Feeley said. If he is convicted of murder, Burton could face 25 years to life in prison. He said Burton doesn’t have a lawyer yet.

State police and the local sheriff’s office offered little information on why Burton turned himself in after eluding authorities since June 5.

“Once charges are filed in this type of investigation, all questions are directed to the Office of the Attorney General,” Col. Robert Williams of the Maine State Police said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “The state nor the Sheriff’s Department intend to release any further details today.”

Piscataquis County Sheriff John J. Goggin could not be reached Tuesday evening.

Ginn wasn’t sure what prompted Burton to turn himself in.

“If he wasn’t getting help, which I feel he was, then I think it was due to the environment and that he just couldn’t take it,” he said. 

In July, Ginn issued a statement to the media asking Burton to turn himself in. Burton’s grandmother also appeared on television about a week ago asking her grandson to come to police, and “within a week he turned himself in,” Ginn said.

“We are so relieved and thrilled. We have so many emotions,” said Angel Ginn, Ginn Gebo’s stepmother. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We’re just glad it’s over and no one else got hurt.”

Burton has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for domestic violence. He and Ginn Gebo had broken up about a week before police believe he broke into her home and shot her to death.

Ginn Gebo’s slaying triggered a massive police search for Burton in Piscataquis and Somerset counties, an area he knew well. It was one of the longest manhunts in state history and had residents and business owners in nearby towns on edge for weeks

Burton and Ginn Gebo had broken up about a week before the day on which police think he broke into her home and shot her to death.

His pickup truck was found abandoned in Parkman a few days after her death and police suspected he was on foot. A little more than a week later, Burton was spotted walking along a snowmobile trail in Guilford.

Burton, who also goes by the name Robert Elliot and has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for domestic violence, also was seen last month near Davis Pond in North Guilford. A camp owner told police he saw the man fleeing in a canoe or kayak on Davis Pond. He was wearing camouflage clothing and had a black pack strapped to his body.

Police issued warnings to residents not to approach him, believing that he was armed and dangerous.

Lt. Mark Brooks, commander of Maine State Police Troop C Barracks in Skowhegan and incident commander for the search, said Tuesday that troopers were “very relieved and thankful that the manhunt for Robert Burton has come to an end.”

“Now citizens can return to their camps, recreations areas, favorite fishing holes and hiking spots without fear of encountering Mr. Burton. This is a sharp contrast to what citizens have had to endure the last 68 days.”

“I think most of us feel like a burden has been lifted, and we look forward to refocusing our efforts back to our normal areas of responsibility and spending time with our own families,” he said.

Brooks said “families, churches, civic organizations and local businesses” in the Parkman and Guilford area “went out of their way to bring food to the command post and always left us with an encouraging word.”

“That is what is great about Maine people in this area. There is a sense of community that binds us together, and through a difficult situation like a manhunt, we are reminded of the generosity of so many, and for me personally it re-establishes my faith that there are so many more great people out there than the few we tend to deal with every day.”

An electronic sign on Route 150 in downtown Athens that said “Manhunt underway – Call 911 with tips,” one of five in the area that went up July 1, came down weeks ago, but the fears and concerns of area residents and business owners hadn’t gone away.

Until Tuesday.

“I think it will take a lot of worries away for a lot of people,” said Julie Jewell, who with her husband, Steve, owns the Athens Corner Store. “We were always cautious – we made sure vehicles were locked, houses were locked, camps were locked – more cautious.

“What we were thinking is he might get cornered and come out – this sound corny – but fighting, if he got cornered. But now he’s turned himself in so there’s not that worry that he might hurt somebody because he got cornered.”

In Guilford, in Piscataquis County where state police had set up a command post, Paul Griffin, owner of Griffin’s clothing and footwear in Skowhegan and another outlet in downtown Guilford, said everybody in the area knew Burton would come out of hiding sooner or later.

“I think everybody knew he was going to do it when the weather got cold and wet – he was tired of playing the game,” Griffin said Tuesday. “He’s a local guy and I don’t think anybody is upset or happy. It’s just another normal day up in this country. It’s a small town. Everybody knows everybody. Everybody knew he’d turn himself in.”

In the Somerset County town of Harmony on Route 150, store owners said in July that the ongoing search for Burton was hurting business. Visitors and locals with camps in the woods between Harmony, Wellington and Parkman were staying home and not riding the all-terrain vehicle trails and stopping at the stores.

Ron Robinson, the owner of C&R General Store in Harmony village on Route 150 about eight miles up the road from the flashing Athens sign, said he was relieved that business soon might return to normal.

“People are just finding out. I’m sure people are going to be a little more relaxed,” Robinson said. “People that have hunting camps in the area that are secluded haven’t dared to go them. My customers have been concerned with him being loose, but I think it’s going to be a big pressure relief from worrying about it.

“It’s always been in the back of everybody’s mind in the area, so it will help the people who have hunting camps way back in the woods. They haven’t been coming up because of the situation. It’s going to help business some, too, because the people who haven’t been coming to those remote camps are sure to come now.”

Vance Ginn was glad that the long hours officers spent looking for Burton paid off.

“They did an awesome job putting in long hours and working through a lot of frustrations,” said Ginn, who hopes Burton is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

“He should be somewhere for the rest of his life,” Ginn said.

Press Herald Staff Writers Dennis Hoey and Eric Russell contributed to this report.


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