I’ve collected more than 5,000 Lovefraud cases, all of them atrocious tales of deceit and betrayal. Even so, the behavior of Loretta Burroughs, 63, of Mays Landing, New Jersey, was way over the top, heinous beyond belief.
On August 3, 2007, Loretta stabbed her husband to death, dismembered his body, packed the remains into plastic totes and dragged them around from house to house, until they were discovered on May 17, 2013.
She told her friends and family that Daniel Burroughs, 63 at the time, had left her for a younger woman. They had driven off in a yellow Hummer with Florida license plates.
Last week, Loretta Burroughs was convicted of murder. I covered the trial for the Daily Mail.
While sitting in the gallery for a preliminary hearing, a man sat down next to me. It turned out to be the victim’s grief-stricken half-brother, Ray Wantorick, who told me more about Loretta’s behavior.
“The Loretta that most people meet is not the Loretta that truly is,” he said. “What she did to my brother they make horror movies out of. But she’ll come in here like a kicked puppy dog.”
And she did. Loretta Burroughs sat in court and cried. Ray said it was all an act.
Most Lovefraud readers know that psychopaths have the ability to turn on the tears whenever they want.
But does the general public know it? More importantly, did the jury know it?
After all the evidence had been presented, the judge instructed the jury on how to go about their deliberations.
He said they were to evaluate the evidence “in light of your knowledge of how people behave.”
The statement struck me as problematic.
The reason most of us are hooked by psychopaths is because we don’t know that people are capable of behaving as these human predators do.
We don’t know that certain people can turn on the tears — real tears — when they actually don’t feel any sadness at all.
We don’t know that certain people are capable of looking deep into our eyes, swearing they are telling the truth, when every word our of their mouth is a lie.
We don’t know that certain people can proclaim their deep and undying love for us, when, in fact, they are incapable of love at all.
Would the jury, based on their knowledge of human behavior, believe that this gray-haired lady was be capable of doing what she did?
Sweet little grandmother
The defense portrayed Loretta Burroughs as a sweet little grandmother who provided excellent care to people in assisted living facilities and would never murder her husband, let alone chop up his body.
In fact, back in 2007, most of Loretta’s relatives, neighbors and acquaintances believed her story. They believed that she had been abandoned by her husband, and when she tearfully asked for help, they provided it — mostly by helping her sell Daniel Burroughs’ property.
But the victim’s brother, and his best friend, had misgivings. Almost a month after Daniel Burroughs disappeared, they filed a missing persons report.
More appalling behavior
When the remains were found, Loretta Burroughs was charged with first-degree murder and with hindering her apprehension by hiding the evidence.
The jury listened to evidence of the crimes. But they were not informed about Loretta’s previous antisocial deeds:
- In 1996, Loretta was convicted of embezzling more than $480,000 from her employer and sentenced to 15 months in prison, five years probation, and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.
- In 1996, while she was going to court for the embezzlement case, Loretta was charged with stealing another $36,580 from a car dealership where she worked. She pleaded guilty and served time for that crime as well.
- When Loretta was arrested for the death of Daniel Burroughs, police reopened the investigation into the death of her previous husband, Joseph Doyle. His cause of death was officially a heart attack, but traces of Percocet and Xanax were found in his body. His family was suspicious, but there was not enough evidence to press charges.
- Loretta Burroughs was sued at least six times for nonpayment of debt.
The jury also didn’t know that when she was arrested, Loretta had confessed to murdering Daniel Burroughs. The confession was thrown out on a technicality.
Lovefraud readers know that psychopaths seldom own up to their actions, so why did Loretta confess?
Thinking about it, I realized that the confession was just another psychopathic stunt. Loretta had been caught red-handed. So the spun a story that her husband was abusing her, and she killed him in self-defense. Of course, none of this was true — testimony revealed that she began plotting the murder months before it happened.
In the end the jury did believe that Loretta murdered Daniel Burroughs. But the biggest reason why was that they had hard evidence: The victim’s remains were found in Loretta’s closet.
Innocent until proven guilty
That’s the way our legal system is supposed to work. The judge reminded the jury that in the United States, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the guilty verdict can only be rendered after careful consideration of the evidence.
Overall, this is a good system, much better than capricious acts of judgment, punishment and even execution that took place during other times in history.
But when we apply this judicial standard to our personal involvements with people, it can get us into trouble.
I can’t tell you how many Lovefraud readers I’ve spoken with who suspected that their partner or someone else in their lives was lying, cheating, and stealing, but the readers didn’t act to get out of the involvement.
Why? Because they didn’t have any evidence.
They couldn’t prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was betraying them.
So they stayed in the involvement. And the longer they stayed, the more damage they endured.
Acting without evidence
When deciding whether or not to allow someone into your life, you do not need to abide by judicial standards and rules of evidence.
When it comes to your personal relationships, you do not need to consider everyone to be innocent until proven guilty.
Your life is not a court of law. If you get a bad feeling about someone, that is more than enough reason to rid yourself of the person.
Here’s how to protect yourself from psychopaths:
- Know that psychopaths exist.
- Know the warning signs of psychopathic behavior.
- Trust your instincts.
Your instincts are the best defense you have against human predators. If your gut or intuition are telling you that something is wrong, act without evidence.
Don’t wait until you have proof. Run away immediately.
Links to the Loretta Burroughs stories