Samantha Burns

CHARLESTON - The father of a 19-year-old Marshall University student who was abducted at Huntington Mall before being raped and murdered is suing the mall for not providing proper security.

John Burns filed the lawsuit May 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Huntington Mall Company, Cafaro LTD, J.C. Penney Properties and National Securities Consultants.

Burns is suing as the administrator of the estate of Samantha Burns, who disappeared Nov. 11, 2002, after leaving her part-time job in the mall.

Chadrick Fulks and Brandon Basham pled guilty to carjacking resulting in death and were sentenced to life without parole. The two had escaped from a Kentucky jail before abducting Samantha Burns at 6:30 p.m. in the mall parking lot.

They made Burns call her mother and tell her she would be home soon before driving her to an isolated area where they raped and murdered her. Burns' body has not been found, despite an investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Her Chevrolet Cavalier was found burned on a road in Wayne County. Fulks and Basham had escaped the Hopkins County Jail a week before Burns disappeared.

Basham apologized for the act after pleading guilty, but John Burns read in a statement that he considered him "pure evil" and condemned him for not telling authorities where his daughter's body is.

The two are on death row in South Carolina for a similar murder of a woman they abducted in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Burns says the security operation at the Huntington Mall parking lot is partly to blame for his daughter's death.

"At the time of the abduction and attack on Samantha Burns, the defendants had voluntarily undertaken a duty to provide measures to protect invitees at the mall," the complaint says.

Burns says National Security Consultants failed to provide adequate security despite its contract with Huntington Mall and Cafaro to do so. He adds that J.C. Penney, by entering into a contract with the mall to have security provided, is a third party beneficiary and also liable.

Samantha Burns, of West Hamlin, was a Guyan Valley High School graduate. That school hosts a softball tournament and named its softball field in her honor. She was a former player for the Travellers.

Letisha R. Bika is representing the plaintiffs. Calls to her office were not answered.

Judge Irene Berger has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court 06-C-1018

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