published Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Report: Casey Lance Burgiss was shot to death

Relatives knew Casey Lance Burgiss was most likely dead when he stopped calling home months ago.

"He always called and asked about his children. He always called his grandfather," David Burgiss, the victim's father, said Friday. "He stayed in touch with us."

The body of Burgiss, a father of three, was found Monday in a cave on a ridge in Soddy-Daisy after a suspect in his slaying led Soddy-Daisy police to the spot. Burgiss, 24, was reported missing in July.

Sheltered from the elements, his body was found partially mummified in a fetal position. Burgiss died from two gunshot wounds to the head, and he most likely was on his knees when he was killed, according to a Hamilton County medical examiner's report released Friday.

Three shell casings and one projectile were found at the scene, the report stated.

Keith Stewart, 19, who is charged with criminal homicide in Burgiss' death, remained in the Hamilton County Jail on a $750,000 bond Friday afternoon.

Stewart led authorities to Burgiss' body and said two other men were involved in robbing and shooting him. Police said they continue to follow up leads but no other arrests have been made.

Forensic pathologists identified Burgiss by dental X-rays and a tattoo on his left forearm.

David Burgiss said his son would work odd jobs and sometimes be picked up by restaurants where he cooked.

"He was a real good cook," Burgiss said, smiling. "He could make you an omelet or biscuits."

He cares for Kage, Burgiss' son, and takes comfort in the small child, where a part of his son still remains.

"He looks just like him," David Burgiss said.

Casey Burgiss was known for wearing long sleeves year round or keeping a hooded shirt pulled over his head because the slightest bit of sunlight caused an allergic reaction, friends and family said.

He struggled with drug use, constantly moving around, staying with different friends and sometimes falling in with the wrong crowd, family members said. Those closest to him say that's what led to his death. Police said they believe Burgiss was shot during a drug-related robbery.

"It's sad all around. He was allergic to sun. At least he can walk in the sun without having to worry about it," said Shane Bridges, 27, who said he knew Burgiss for eight years.

Burgiss stayed with Bridges about a month before he went missing.

"He had his own demons just like everyone on earth. Unfortunately, those demons ended up catching up with him," Bridges said.

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