DOVER-FOXCROFT — Stephanie Gebo was so afraid of her former boyfriend Robert Burton that she changed the locks on her doors and slept with a gun next to her pillow.

She was last seen alive when she tucked her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son into bed around 8:30 p.m. the night of June 4, according to police affidavits released Wednesday in Piscataquis County Superior Court.

When her daughter left her second-floor bedroom and went downstairs at 6:15 the morning of June 5, she saw her mother lying on the floor face down in a pool of blood and with holes in her back. Gebo, unresponsive in her first-floor bedroom, had suffered several gunshot wounds and had been tied up with duct tape.

The girl got her 10-year-old brother out of bed, then called 911. As she was calling, she saw a camouflage backpack and jacket outside that she recognized as Burton’s. Inside the backpack, police said they later found a knife, duct tape and medication in bottles prescribed for Burton. Police said they found Burton’s cellphone in the jacket.

So began the two-month saga that ended Tuesday when Burton, on the run from authorities and believed to be living in the woods, gave himself up at the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department.

Burton, 38, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday dressed in an orange jail jump suit and orange Crocs on his feet. He wore shackles on his hands and feet, his head was shaved and he appeared to be about the same weight, police said, as when he disappeared in early June. Police suspect Burton had been hiding in camps and in the thick woods of Piscataquis County, where he grew up.

Burton was ordered held without bail, and a bail hearing was set for Monday. Burton, who is charged with being a fugitive from justice and is a suspect in Gebo’s slaying, entered no plea.

Family members of Gebo said as they left the courthouse Wednesday that they were told they shouldn’t comment further on the case. Vance Ginn, Gebo’s father, told the Morning Sentinel on Tuesday that family members were relieved when Burton turned himself in, saying, “it’s been totally on our minds for the last nine weeks” and has “engulfed us the whole time.”

Burton has a lengthy criminal record that includes spending more than 10 years in prison for domestic violence.

A man described as a lifelong friend of Burton’s told police that when he spoke with him before Gebo was killed, Burton had talked about breaking up with her and he suspected she had cheated on him. He told the friend, “It ain’t over yet.” The friend described Burton’s eyes as “black” and told him to not do “anything stupid with Steph,” to which Burton said not to worry — he was just mad at Gebo.

Another friend told police that Burton once said, “If he has problems with a woman again, he is going to kill her.”

Gebo’s fear for herself and her children is recounted in the affidavit, written by state police Detective Thomas Pickering and released by the court Wednesday.

Gebo’s children told police that Burton had lived with them at 46 Kulas Road in Parkman for about two years and that he had moved out May 31 to live with his parents. Stephanie Gebo had then changed the house locks and slept with a gun near her pillow or under the comforter because she was scared of Burton.

Gebo told her son “she was afraid Robert would hurt” the children and that Burton was “an angry person.”

The 13-year-old daughter told police Burton was “always angry” and that he accused her mother of cheating on him.

Both children told police that “Robert is not supposed to have guns; that Robert has a lot of guns; that he has pistols, rifles and shotguns,” according to the affidavit.

Burton’s father, Roger, told police he spoke with his son on June 4 and the younger Burton was upset and “at the end of his rope,” saying he had discovered messages on Gebo’s old phone and he suspected she was cheating on him.

A gun shop owner near the Abbott/Guilford town line sold Gebo a 9 mm handgun about three years ago, police said. On June 4, Robert Burton told his father that Gebo had bought “either a Glock or Colt 9 mm handgun,” according to the affidavit.

Authorities have not said what type of gun was used to kill Gebo, but according to the affidavit, Detective Micah Perkins found four 9 mm shell casings and the window open in the bedroom where Gebo’s body was found.

There also was an apparent bullet hole in the bathroom ceiling and another hole in a pillow that was consistent with the passage of a bullet. The detective also found black duct tape similar to duct tape found in Burton’s backpack and found wrapped around Gebo’s wrist.

Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, who conducted the autopsy on Gebo on June 7, found multiple gunshot wounds to the lungs, spinal area and trachea and determined the death was a homicide.

Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin told WVII TV in July that Burton was wounded by Stephanie Gebo before he turned the gun on her.

“As he was climbing through the window that night, his would-be victim had a handgun and she shot at him,” Goggin said in the interview with the Bangor TV station. “He wasn’t armed at that time. She wounded him slightly, they got in a tussle over the gun and he just lost it. He got the gun away from her and he shot her and he killed her.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said later that she wouldn’t confirm the accuracy of what Goggin had said in the interview. Alsop, the prosecutor, wouldn’t comment on the case Wednesday.

Gebo’s 10-year-old son told police he noticed that his bicycle, which had been left leaning against the house the night of June 4, apparently had been kicked over on the ground the next morning.

At 4:30 on the morning of June 8, Roger Burton found a note under the windshield wiper of his truck at his home in Monson from his son, Robert, telling him where to find Robert’s truck, and another truck was reported stolen from nearby Abbott shortly afterward, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also reveals that a man living on Mantor School Road, which intersects with Kulas Road, the location of Gebo’s home, saw a man he later identified as Burton parked on his property in a black truck on June 4. The man asked Burton to leave and he did, according to the affidavit.

In court Wednesday, Burton was assigned a court-appointed lawyer, Jeffrey Toothaker, of Ellsworth, and Chris Smith was the defense lawyer of the day Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General John Alsop of Cornville is the prosecutor.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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