Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2019

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Suspects in beating death of California psychiatrist were roommates, police say

Kelsey Turner

Metro Police

Kelsey Turner

A day after a California psychiatrist was bludgeoned to death, a cleaning company operator showed up to the apparent crime scene for a scheduled appointment.

It was the business owner’s third time at the Las Vegas house, located near Warm Springs Road and Amigo Street.

In fact, he told police he’d met the suspects, Kelsey Turner, 25, her new boyfriend, Jon Logan Kennison, and one of their roommates, Diana Nicole Pena, a few weeks back during his first cleaning date, according to Metro Police.

And they were there again during the March 4 appointment, a day after police believe Thomas Kirk Burchard, 71, was killed.

Burchard’s body was found three days later, underneath bedding and clothing inside the trunk of a high-end car that had been ditched alongside a desert road leading to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

As the business operator made his way through the house to check out a smashed door they asked him to fix, he saw Pena scrubbing a red stain on the floor.

She offered him an extra $20 to scrub that and other red stains off.

He obliged because he thought it was wine, he told police.

The trio left the house without paying up.

The marks likely weren’t wine, police suggested.

The new details were released in an amended criminal complaint released Thursday.

Turner, a model whose work has appeared in Playboy Italy and Maxim magazine, is behind bars in California, awaiting extradition to Clark County. Police allege she was in an intimate relationship with Burchard, who was 46 years her elder.

Kennison and Pena had previously been named in court logs, but the newly released documents outline their alleged connection to Turner and the slaying of the man who paid the trio’s rent.

Their arrests have not been announced, and warrants issued locally remain open, Las Vegas Justice Court logs show.

On March 7, Burchard was found partially clothed, inside Turner’s blue 2017 Mercedes-Benz coupe, which was ditched atop a desert berm far east on Lake Mead Boulevard, police said.

He died from blows to the head, also suffering defensive wounds, police said.

Around the time he was killed, Burchard had stopped responding to messages from his longtime girlfriend in California, so she reported him missing to Metro, who dispatched officers to check on the house, not finding anyone.

After police found out he was dead — and upon a closer look — detectives spotted blood splattered throughout the house, and evidence that someone had attempted to clean up.

Police grew suspicious that the house had been abandoned even though Burchard had just made a rent payment that guaranteed a free stay through June.

Phone records probed by detectives determined that Turner had shut off her phone around the time TV news began to report that police had launched a homicide investigation into a body that was found abandoned in the desert, according to the complaint.

A deeper look also placed her phone early on March 6 near the desert area where Burchard was found. Phone records, as well as a Strip casino bartender employee card bearing her name found among Burchard’s belongings in the car, helped police identify Pena, according to the complaint.

After the killing, Pena rented a hotel room — where Turner and Kennison likely also stayed — near the Strip. She later abandoned her belongings there, not showing up to work or calling to say she’d quit.

Two weeks before DNA results made Kennison and Pena official suspects, the FBI made contact with Kennison during Turner’s arrest near Stockton, Calif., police said.

Speaking to him over the phone, Metro homicide detectives agreed to meet Kennison in California. When they arrived, he was gone.

He never contacted them again.

Among Pena’s belongings left in bags at the hotel, police found Turner’s driver’s license and five pieces of paper with Burchard’s handwriting, police said.

They’d been torn off his planner in which he kept “meticulous” financial and password information.