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Police solve 1979 Abilene robbery, murder

By the Associated Press

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

WACO, Texas (AP) - Relatives and friends of an Abilene jewelry store manager killed during a 1979 robbery say they are relieved that the case has finally been solved.

Abilene police announced last week that blood samples from the store where Glenn Burns was killed provided crucial DNA evidence implicating Harold Buford Jones, a Midland attorney who died in 1986 of natural causes.

"I always miss him and I always wonder what he'd be doing now," said Jerry Sears, who grew up with Burns in Valley Mills near Waco. "Knowing they had solved it, it brings a little closure. I went by his grave. ... I guess I just wanted to visit him."

The 6-foot-5 Burns had been a high school basketball star, an avid hunter and fisherman, an active member of his church and well liked within the close-knit community, friends said.

Burns was 24 and had recently graduated from Abilene Christian University when he was killed.

"When he was gone, it was like half of you was missing," said his father Claude Burns. "Every time you visit the grave, you ask yourself, 'Why couldn't they have stopped this?' and when it did happen, 'Why couldn't they catch the person who did it?'"

The case had been cold until 1999, when Clayton Daniels, an Abilene police criminalist working unsolved cases, sent blood samples from the murder scene to the Texas Department of Public Safety lab in Lubbock.

When it turned out the blood did not belong to Burns, it was submitted to the FBI's national DNA database.

Last year, the Texas Rangers began investigating a similar unsolved 1980 robbery and homicide at a San Angelo jewelry store. Blood at that murder scene implicated Louis Williams, who later named Jones as his accomplice.

Williams, who has since pleaded guilty to the San Angelo murder, is not a suspect in the Abilene slaying. But because of the similarities in the two cases, the Texas Rangers began to suspect Jones in Burns' death.

Authorities could not test Jones' DNA but took samples from his ex-wife and daughter.

"The case was closed, but they're never just totally closed because like this, new technology comes along and people are able to do new things that might turn up some lead," Abilene Police Chief Melvin Martin said.

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