Coast Guard veteran's family hopes FBI program helps crack case

VICAP compares evidence through secure database

By Deven Clarke - Crime and Justice Reporter, Bill Caldera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - The family of John Ryan Burton, a Coast Guard veteran killed Jan. 29, is not giving up hope his killer will be found and brought to justice.

"He was just a hard worker. He had no issues with anybody. He was a Coast Guard veteran," said Meagan Burton, John Burton's sister.  

Meagan Burton is even more hopeful after learning about an FBI program that compares case evidence and data with other law enforcement agencies' information to help solve violent crimes. 

She recalled the night her brother was killed.
 
"My brother ran downstairs around 4 in the morning. Something alerted him, and it was very cold that day. He ran down in just pajama bottoms, and somebody shot him," she said.

John Burton suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the face outside his Westchase apartment home near Bandera and Eckhert roads.
 
"The only evidence is three shell casings. No cameras, no witnesses, really no information about why this happened," Meagan Burton said.

Reporter Debrief: FBI Violent Criminal Apprehension Program

She recently learned about the FBI's Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, which is keeping her hopeful.
 
"It's a database which allows law enforcement officers to load data about investigations they're working," said FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee. "It allows investigators throughout the United States, and actually throughout the world, to be able to identify potential commonalities between crimes."

VICAP is a tool FBI officials said is mostly utilized in cases that show a serial pattern. 

Meagan Burton is hoping investigators will give the tool a try.
 
"My son never met his uncle. He never heard his laugh. Never got to hug him. My mom's heart has literally been ripped out of her chest," Meagan Burton said.
 
While the San Antonio Police Department said it does actively participate in the VICAP program, it's unclear whether the detective working the case feels it fits the criteria.

KSAT 12 News contacted the detective for comment, but hasn't gotten a response. 

 

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