AUGUSTA — The parents of Maddilyn Burgess, the Sturbridge, Massachusetts, woman found dead in the trunk of a car on Timberwood Drive in Gardiner, told WBZ-TV in Boston that their daughter was the victim of domestic abuse.

Burgess’ body was found in the trunk of a car driven by Gyrth Rutan, 34, also of Sturbridge, who died Aug. 9 when he shot himself in the head with a shotgun after state police stopped his car.

Cindi Ciani and Bill Burgess, her parents, said Rutan was Burgess’ boyfriend at the time of her death. Ciani told WBZ-TV that Rutan isolated her daughter from her close friends and that he was verbally and physically abusive to Maddilyn Burgess during their relationship.

“I knew something was wrong as soon as the officers asked me my name and came into the house,” Ciani told reporters. “I fell to the floor and the only thing I could say was, ‘No, no, no, my baby girl.'”

In June, her parents said she was granted an emergency restraining order against Rutan, but they were seeing each other again shortly afterward.

The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office identified Maddilyn Burgess’s body on Aug. 13 and said the cause of her death was blunt force trauma. They also confirmed that Rutan’s apartment in Sturbridge had “evidence of a crime scene” and the incident was being investigated as a homicide.


Her parents said Maddilyn Burgess had a history of substance abuse, but that was not a factor in her death.

Lindsay Corcoran, spokesperson for the Worcester County District Attorney, said Wednesday that no further information is available and the family speaking to news media outlets is their “personal choice.”

The office of the state’s chief medical examiner told the Kennebec Journal last week that the results of autopsies on Burgess’ and Rutan’s bodies could not be released because the investigation is ongoing.

According to an obituary published by Paridis-Givner Funeral Home in Massachusetts, Maddilyn Burgess graduated from Medfield High School in 2008. She later received an associate degree in medical assisting at Salter College.

“… (S)he was often a source of encouragement to others with her sweet, genuine soul and infectious smile that lit up an entire room,” the obituary reads. “She would want to be remembered for the beautiful person that she was, and have her life celebrated without guilt, remorse or anger.”

Maddilyn Burgess’ family is working with the YWCA of Central Massachusetts Daybreak program to raise money for victims of domestic violence. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise money for victims in abusive situations.


Francine Garland Stark, executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said each domestic abuse situation is unique, and when victims of abuse return to their abuser, the blame should be put firmly on the abuser for ensuing trouble.

“It’s not like it’s black-and-white,” she said. “We know is that the abuse doesn’t stop until the perpetrator of abuse decides to stop.”

“Most of the time, when we see domestic violence homicide, it’s when the victim of abuse says they are leaving and not going to reconcile with this person,” she added.

A large portion of domestic violence incidents go unnoticed in the community, Garland Stark said, because abusers usually take steps to hide it from the public.

“People who do these acts usually don’t treat anyone else in the world this way,” she said. “They know that it’s wrong; otherwise they wouldn’t try so hard to hide it.”

Garland Stark said work needs to be done at the cultural level to deal with abusers’ belief that abusive behavior is acceptable.


“Our cultural focus seems to continually be, ‘Why would the victim of abuse be willing to give their abuser more chances?'” she said. “How can we interrupt the idea that (abusers) can treat people this way in an intimate relationship so nobody believes they have a right to do harm?”

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

Twitter: @SamShepME

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