El Dorado News

March 17, 2018
El Dorado News Times

Murder suspect makes first appearance, will be held without bond

By Tia Lyons
This article was published February 24, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

A Louisiana man who is suspected in the slaying of his girlfriend, who was found dead inside an abandoned car earlier this month in El Dorado, is being without bond in the Union County Jail.

Jeffery J. Burton, 43, made his first appearance Friday in 35th Judicial District Court on charges of first-degree homicide and arson with an enhanced penalty for felony with a firearm.

Burton is accused of killing 41-year-old Gemina Stromile, also of Louisiana.

On Feb. 10, El Dorado police were called to the area of West Main and Oak Valley, just north of Stars Cinema, in reference to a welfare concern and they discovered a woman, later identified as Stromile, unresponsive inside a red, four-door Pontiac car.

Stromile was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police said the car was parked near a woodline in the Timber Hills subdivision, but the vehicle was not close to any houses in the area.

The interior of the car had been damaged by fire. Police and investigators with the El Dorado Fire Department determined that the fire had been intentionally set.

Burton, who was identified as Stromile’s boyfriend, was developed as a suspect and he was apprehended two days later by authorities in Houston.

Police said Burton was taken into custody at a bus station and transported to the jail in Harris County. Authorities said Burton was en route to Los Angeles, his birthplace, according to Union County Jail records.

Following an extradition hearing in Houston, Burton was brought back to El Dorado and booked into the Union County Jail at 9:38 p.m. Wednesday.

During Burton’s first appearance hearing Friday, district Judge Jack Barker ordered him held without bond and remanded the case over to Union County Circuit Court.

Burton was determined indigent and will be assigned a public defender.

The News-Times initially received information that Burson was from Cullen, La. Jail records list an address in Calhoun, Louisiana.

Capt. Kevin Holt said the investigation into Stromile’s death is continuing.

Police have declined to release details regarding any injuries Stromile sustained.

Holt said he had not yet been briefed on if investigators have received a preliminary report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock, where the body had been sent for autopsy.

Police previously said Burton had ties in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and California, but they have since learned that neither Burson nor Stromile had any known connections in Arkansas.

“Through talking to her friends and the people who knew her, they didn’t know El Dorado, and they had never been here before, through all accounts,” Holt said.

“Nobody could tell us how they ended up here,” he added, noting that the couple was reported to have left from the Shreveport, Louisiana, where Stromile was living, before coming to El Dorado.

Holt said EPD detectives were able to interview Burson Thursday, but they have not yet established a motive for the murder or whether Stromile was killed prior to the Pontiac being abandoned in El Dorado.

“That’s something that’s still being investigated. We cannot say what kind of timeline we have. That’s going to factor into what the crime lab will tell us,” Holt said.

A funeral for Stromile is scheduled for today in Plain Dealing, Louisiana.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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