Kim Chandler and Ashley Hopkinson, AP, March 8, 2008
An Auburn police official said Saturday he’s 100 percent certain they’ve caught the killer of Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk.
Courtney Larrell Lockhart, 23, of Smiths was charged with three capital counts accusing him of murdering Burk during a kidnapping, robbery and attempted rape.
“We have the right individual in jail. I’m a 100 percent sure of that,” Auburn Assistant Police Chief Thomas Dawson said Saturday.
Dawson declined to discuss much of the evidence against Lockhart, who was arrested Friday after car chase in Phenix City. “I will tell you this. We have a lot of evidence in this case, a large amount of evidence.”
Police believe Burk was abducted from or near the Auburn campus. Burk and Lockhart did not know each other, Dawson said.
Burk left her boyfriend’s apartment around 8 p.m. Tuesday night, said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. Burk, from Marietta, Ga., was found shot at 9:08 p.m. on North College Street about five miles from the school Tuesday night.
She apparently tried to flag down a car before collapsing alongside the road. She was taken to a hospital, where she died.
At 9:27 p.m. her car was discovered in flames on campus. Dawson said police had a photo of the suspect, but he wouldn’t say where they obtained it. NASA was involved in enhancing the photograph.
Lockhart was driving the car and initially stopped for officers, but then fled, setting off a short car chase. The pursuit was short because Lockhart’s car broke down, McGarr said. He then fled on foot. After the officers caught Lockhart, the connection was made to the Auburn murder.
The freshman’s murder rattled the sleepy college town that experiences very few homicides. “‘I have more comfort knowing he’s been arrested, however, I still feel a little uncomfortable on campus,” Katie Coby, an Auburn junior majoring in communications, said.