I’ve collected more than 10,000 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
Loretta Burroughs, 63, guilty of murdering her husband and chopping up his corpse, on Lovefraud.com.
Grandmother, 63, on trial for stabbing husband, dismembering him, and keeping his body parts in Tupperware, on Lovefraud.com.
Protecting yourself from psychopaths is really hard. Rules 1,2,3?… nobody looks for answers about a crazy making situation until they are CAUGHT IN the crazymaking situation. I think those who are discarded are the LUCKIEST. We now know that ordinary looking people can have such innocent faces and yet, have very deceptive pasts.
Am reading an article today about a woman who has been freed from 22 years on death row for the murder of her son. I don’t know her backstory but I do know, she was convicted on the word and investigation of ONE MAN, an officer of the law. She received the death penalty! Look up Debra Jean Mike.
As bad as my life was, I knew when I found out about the smear campaign on me that my life was in serious jeopardy. My husband was manipulating a narrative to exonerate himself in my murder. He encouraged others to “protect Him” from evil me. A county deputy helped him to escape charges when I was nearly murdered. That deputy and how he wrote his report portrayed me as a crazed attacker. Yet I have email proof of convos that show my ex was so kind and loving towards me, inviting me to meet up with him, he’d help me with a separate unmarriage related matter, and we’d discuss our divorce, which was supposed to be friendly. At least he said so and I thought so because I gave him what he said he wanted. That ONE deputy showed my ex and his family how they could get away with murder, and the Deputy was the one who put ME into enormous danger.
It’s scary how much power ONE person has against an innocent.
It’s why kaya48 is my hero (and her attorney). I truly believe GOD was watching over Kaya and put that attorney into her life. Otherwise, ONE law enforcement person could have wiped Kaya off this earth and no one would have been held accountable. It would have been blamed on Kaya.
ps Hard to trust instincts. Instincts tell You that something is “off” but not what it indicates (possibly murder). People in my community were def hostile to me, but because I hadn’t done anything horrible, I had NO CLUE why. Who expects a two faced nasty smear campaign from a spouse who is so loving and sweet to your face? And who expects it’s because he’s sociopath. I mean, until you actually have the experience, who thinks “Possible Sociopath”?
A look at Loretta Burroughs backstory demonstrates she’s capable of heinous murder.
Debra Jean Mike? I don’t know her backstory but the backstory of the ONE person who’s investigation got her the death penalty? HIS backstory demonstrates that he’s a monster, used his badge and authority to stalk/harm/malign many an innocent.
Me? I am back to who I was at the beginning of my marriage, and back to who I was before I met my ex. That “crazy” lady only existed DURING my marriage with a sociopath and the nest of sociopaths that made up his family/friends/minions.
As my therapist said, You’re not crazy. You’re in a crazy making situation.
I say the same to other LF members.
I learned what I know about spaths and how to protect myself through hard experience. I wish I’d been taught somehow before I lost so much.
Frustrating and sad that there is so little justice for so many. It is truly “Satan’s world” for now.
I think her name is actually “Debra Jean Milke,” if anyone wants to find more info.
Horrible story. What comes to my mind is wondering what else she has done that she has never been caught for. The more I learn about spaths, the more I recognize that they are the same to everyone and they don’t change over time (any more than a person motivated by the well being of others and by following the rules changes for no reason.)
Her confession was not really a confession – it was another lie she told to avoid consequences of her choice of actions based on what she thought would work best for her at the time. When spaths happen to say something that is true, it is always coincidental. They don’t care what is true; they care what will work.
Frightening that she worked as a caretaker of the elderly who are particularly vulnerable and powerless. It’s possible she stole from and even murdered others and not gotten caught.
People today don’t listen to their instincts as well because of the popular notion that everybody is inherently good. A couple of generations ago, people where more widely taught that there are evil people who need to be avoided. Old fashioned wisdom: if a man makes you cry he’s a bad man – get away from him. One perceived problem could be a mistake, the second could be a misunderstanding, the third is a pattern of behavior.
Another notion is that people can be ‘fixed.’ Some people do repent and change, but most adults in this society have sufficient knowledge of right and wrong, and opportunity and support to change their ways and do right. If someone is harming others, it’s usually a conscious choice.
These are two very wise observations! I couldn’t agree more. I see now how I was raised and groomed to be a victim of a spath because I was raised to see the good in everyone and to help those who were hurting and in need. While these seem like virtuous lessons to teach your children, they can be easily used to manipulate. “If a man makes you cry, he’s a bad man.” It couldn’t be more simple than that. I wish I had been taught to see the good in everyone, until they gave me a reason to stop looking.
And not only can everyone who is broken not be “fixed”, but it’s not my responsibility! That has been a hard lesson to learn. I wish along with being raised to help people in need, I was also taught that it shouldn’t be at my own detriment.
I did have her name misspelled. Debra Jean Milke. What a nightmare, that one dominating, controlling law enforcement officer’s statements is what put her on DEATH ROW! Not evidence, not eyewitness accounts. Scary that DEATH ROW has such low criteria. How many others have been trapped this way?
I think trying to teach people nuances to recognize sociopaths is too big. Your old fashioned wisdom is simpler and to the point, therefore much easier.
I remember being told that in order to improve my marriage, I needed to “accept him as he is”. The problem was, accepting him as he is was the answer to “stay or go”, it was not the answer to improve my marriage. And the marriage counselor who blamed me for objecting to what my husband was doing to me… no wonder I was so dizzy from confusion.
I think they should train therapists and marriage counselors about sociopaths. They’re the ones that a victim of a sociopath is going to seek out for help.
“If a man makes you cry, he’s a bad man – get away from him”. Agree. No, you’re not “too sensitive” – he’s an abusive loon. This is something the creep said to me about two weeks into it: he’d stayed at my house. In the morning, he got up, got ready to leave really quickly, took my face in his hands really quickly, looked me over really quickly, and muttered really quickly, “You know I don’t think you’re really good looking, but you’ve got luscious lips. So if you ever get worried, think, luscious lips, luscious lips.” Then he sped out the door and disappeared for the day or two. If you don’t know what these maniacs are like, you’re just left with your mind boggling, heart racing, feelings going haywire. They’ve just slept with you, stayed the night with you, then they throw the weirdest curveballs you’ve ever had to dodge in your life, at you. It does all send you spinning. I’d say that’s another “sign” – if you’re spinning out around them, stay the hell away. Actually, that was another thing he said to me. He prepared himself a takeaway pottle of instant noodles, as he was stirring them around – again, quickly – he said, give it a good spin around so it knows it’s alive – and sped out the door. He was so practiced at abusing people.
Surpised…omg this guy is pure evil like Jeffery Dommer level.
He (they all) use what is called Double Think (google)…it’s a way to make you stop and think did he just say that? It’s to confuse the person very quickly.
My ex said when I first moved in while sitting on the porch “If you ever leave me, I will kill you”…I immediately though I need to leave this guy…I asked him “what did you just say” and he said “I didnt say anything”….all gas lighting abuse. So scary to look back because every time he said these crazy things I would say to my self leave this guy!! But he had such a hold over my mind.
This is what society does not understand and they also dont understand their level of sick twisted mind games that leave you speechless because you have never experienced anything like their behavior behavior.
I am soooo glad that you have exposed the No Contact Rule again. You should be very proud of yourself for doing this. This guy is very sick minded with his mental games he plays on his victim.
Hi Jan7. I have never directly experienced anything like it in my life, thank God, and I hope I never do again. I went to a counsellor once, very experienced, who said that my mother’s husband was probably a sociopath, when I described to her his behaviour. I thought, whoah! Sociopath! That’s pretty extreme! But he probably was, or, at least, he was “sociopathic”. I’m pretty sure the guy I met three months later, was/is, a “spath”. There are just too many parallels between his behaviour and the descriptions of spaths that I’ve read.
While he never said he’d kill me, he used to state repeatedly that he’d never hurt me (ok), he did say one day, early on in the “relationship” that he wanted to buy a gun. To shoot a deer. Just one deer. Nice. He also took his false teeth out and licked them and said he could cut someone’s face up with the broken gum line of them, which was quite sharp. What he liked to do was frighten the crap out of me. And I still loved him. It’s such a damn weird situation to be in.
I woke up one night and he was curled up behind me, trembling. I woke up suddenly, I think it was because he poked me in the back. When I turned my head around, he spun off to the other side of the bed, as if he had 10 arms and legs and just went utterly quiet. I said, what are you doing, he said, nothing. I asked him to leave. Middle of the night. Luckily, we were in a hotel that I had paid for. Scariest fricken thing ever, I thought, yes, he could harm me. Anybody involved with these people is in a very complex situation.
I’m glad you got away, your ex sounds terrifying. Never said anything – love it. I think the guy I knew just used to use, “I don’t remember”. And yet, still, when all was going well, I still felt safe with him, though I never went to sleep easily. It’s madness, isn’t it. Staying with someone who you ask before going to sleep, you’re not going to kill me, are you? I like being alive. I hated those moments, right before going to sleep, I’d think, what the F*** am I doing here? I can’t even say I’m sure he won’t smother me in the night. Then I’d think, you’re just worked up. It’ll be fine. Please God I never meet another one of these sub-human carcasses again.
Just replying to myself because I wanted to add that it’s heartbreaking to be in love with someone that you have to manage your interactions with and protect yourself, and leave, and go back, and leave, and go back, (and leave) because you do love this person. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I thought he was wonderful, amazing, the one. I still love him. He just happens to be utterly toxic overall and I have to stay away from him, not because I want to, but because he leaves me no other choice with his behaviour. That’s partly why they’re so shit, isn’t it? Because it’s all a big lie and so one-sided.
I came to understand that I loved who my ex spath said he was, not who he was. I loved the fake person he portrayed himself as. I did not love who he really is.
Yes, you’re right. Wow, that’s a vital distinction. Thank you.
“give it a good spin around so it knows it’s alive” Wow. That’s just creepy. Talk about forewarning…
>>Don’t need evidence…
A couple friends set me up with the younger partner of a friend of my mom’s (mom’s friend was someone we all knew and trusted.)
He walked into the house, I shook his hand — and took my friend aside and asked her why she was setting me up with someone so horrible. She was aghast at my quick judgement. I was rather ill at the time, so maybe that’s why I was so direct and blunt and didnt’ filter my impression like any person normally would.
A few months later he stole everything from his partner and ran off.
I have no idea how I knew. It must have been a flint in the eyes. A smile that disconnected from the eyes. Who knows. I never knew WHAT I’d been bothered so deeply by.
It wasn’t evidence for a courtroom. But it was evidence for a relationship.
Someone here has mentioned Davin DeBeck’s book (is that his name) “The Gift of Fear.” I dont’ know how much it helps with any of this — or will just create some fear of all the nuts possible — but it was a good read, and had a few pointers that have helped me heal in my situation and helped reinforce my sense of instinct.
Instinct isn’t intuition nor random or epherial. It’s based on concrete things we’ve seen — but that our conscious mind hasn’t noticed yet. That’s all. Therefore it IS valid.
Another one. I met through a dating site. Seemed nice, enthusiastic. After a few calls, there was one where he didn’t remember the call before correctly, and was different than before – not bad different, just off.
I declined to get together. My mom pushed me and I get very angry with her. She found me too picky overall. I went ahead (public place, middle of day). He seemed like a jerk to me, but the middle of the meal gave me the answer. He was staring a lot at the table behind off to the side of him. Then said “I’d really like to have that drink.” It was a little comment, but out of place. Who cares about a drink in the middle of a warm pleasant day? Who focuses so much on another table with one, though I wasn’t quite sure. But it clicked with that comment — he’s an alcholic. The drink WAS that important to him, and the off night, he’d been drinking.
I’m not dating an alcholic, who hasn’t been out of a sobriety program for over a year, and doesn’t mention it to me as part of the personal conversation of who you are.
After that my mom never pushed me again. She decided my instinct was just plain fine.
Don’t know why I’m telling these stories. But it bugs me when someone makes me question my instinct. It’s real, it’s valid. And it’s right a whole lot more often than it’s wrong.
PS. I never verified that he was an alcoholic. I don’t need to. I had enough pieces to put the picture together. Besides, I had enough pieces to know — this wasn’t someone I could trust to have in my life. That’s all I need to know.
What I’ve learned from my therapist is that abusers raise doubts, then set themselves up as the authority to answer the doubt. Once you’ve learned to be in doubt over little things (like whether you are pretty), you have doubts over your instinct.
THAT’s the thing the keeps you from acting on some completely oddball behavior that you would run from if a friend told it to you.
Curls, we as humans project what we think and our actions onto others but like you did it is better to dissect what he was so obsessed with “drinking” you came to the likely issue and like you determined not worth opening the door up to see if you are right or wrong. .
Sociopaths throw bread crumbs out to see how we react, it’s part of their testing of a new victim and if you are willing to truly listen to what they say and take what they say at face value then you will steer clear of them. Everything and every word a sociopath does is calculated and on purpose especially in the beginning of the relationship when they are testing the victim to see if they will turn their head to their manipulative and cunning ways.
Once I had proof of my ex h (then husband) 2 year affair with his co worker he begged me to stay and he would often tell me that he was “not a good person”. Well I thought that everyone could change and everyone had good in them…I should have just listen to his words and taken them at face value because once I left him and his craziness I found a counselor who told me he was a psychopath so he was correct “he was not a good person” he was a evil person.
ps Glad you followed your instinct. I read a article that a human can determine within 11 seconds if someone is trust worthy or not. YOU have a good instinct indicator radar…never weaver from it no matter what others suggest or say to you.
Your description of the testing a psychopath or rapist or anyone who’s going to extremely abuse, uses. The book “Back Off!” by Margret Launglin (something like that).. describes it well. The book was hard to read, but for a while there were classes based on her work, and she testified and effected legislation on this.
I want to say — the alchoholic wasn’t a psychopath. He was a hurting person who’d not reached past alchohol to solve whatever his problem was. He may have been genetically inclined to it. He didn’t have a charm element to turn on.
A lot of comments are made about psychopaths on this site, and people have dealt with them, unfortunately. Not everyone bad is a psychopath. Some are straight out robbers or self-centered regular people. Still to be avoided. Once dealing with a problem, I tend to see that in many people after that. I’ve met some pretty rotten people, who I wouldn’t label psychopath. Just selfish and immature, and broken inside. That level of manipulation that you describe is the key to identifying them, that and their taking pleasure in other people’s pain.
The partner who stole, might have been, might not have been. I never got to know him well enough to know. …and I’m quite glad about that.
Once I wrote the comment above, I realized what had bothered me. It was something negative in his eyes, negative at me in a “about” to control you way, or dismissive of me without knowing anything about me (not dismissive because he wasn’t attracted to me). Just fleeting, then not as distinct.
An affair doesn’t mean someone’s a psychopath. They may just be self-centered. Or have a problem with sex drive or intimacy and committment. In many cases, IF it’s ONE affair at a particular point such as right after losing one’s mother, it can be about something besides psychopathology. But that’s a small window and the person has to be genuinely sorry — with signs all along that they were out of their mind or trying to figure their world out. Not just jacking it up with someone else. Just my thoughts on it.
There are so many things put into our heads to blunt that instinct. “Don’t think bad of others. Don’t judge so quickly. Give them room to be human/imperfect. Be quite and a good girl and cooperative. They’re being nice, even if it feels a little pushy.” They are all irrelevant ALL the time. A nice person doesn’t need excuses for them, to pop into your head, lol.
Yes you are correct not every bad person is a psychopaths but it is important to remember that experts believe that 1 in 25 people mainly men are sociopath/psychopaths. And experts believe too that we have at least one in our circle of friends and that we meet one in passing every day whether in the deli line, at work or through a friend etc.
1 in 5 people have narcissistic personality disorder = “selfish people”. Narc’s are equalily abusive as sociopath and can be very covert in their manipulative ways.
Throw in all the other mental disorders and you just have to follow your gut.
As for your statement “Some are straight out robbers or self-centered regular people”, I respectfully disagree with your statement not after educating myself on my ex disorder. Someone that robs is not a good ethical, moral person & I personally would not want them in my circle of friends because something is very off with them to rob in the first place.
The book How to spot a dangerous man by Sandra Brown is a good book if you are thinking about dating also the book The sociopath next door by Harvard professor Dr Martha Stout (the audio version is on you tube for free)
Lesson for me that I have learned through all of this nightmare is to take people at face value & follow your gut.
In no way was I suggesting that a robber or other bad but regular person — should be a friend. Of course they are to be avoided!!
Someone can be self-centered. Or can rob, without being narcissistic. For instance the robber who’s a drug addict and is otherwise a good person — gone to desperation.
My suggestion is that people with these labels exist! But there are people who are doing bad who aren’t belonging to these labels. The person who can be compassionate but is self-absorbed about their own goals a lot of the time.
FOR ME – and this is my own need — I need not to make my world into these labels. It’s too easy to get alarmist and panicky around every turn. A lot of rude behavior, is just people being rude.
That leaves one’s head clearer to then spot the actual psychopath and others with whatever the appropriate labels are — who is going to be manipuative so quickly that you really have to know to look out for it. Or who seems incredibly nice, but it’s a complete facade.
And rude people are still to be avoided as not safe enough.
There are none in my friendship circles. However, I keep very tight circles. There are people I know, may interact with as part of an organization or friend of a friend, but someone isn’t a friend until I know them enough to have a real connection. The rest are for me “people I know.” I’m pretty fussy that way — HOWEVER, I have met people, that I disconnected from either left entirely or do the bare minimun of civility. That looking here on the site, this is them. Or at least they show some of this, and I’d rather not know about the more.
Just a hang up of mine. In no way are these comments about the experiences that people here have had.
Here’s an example of someone who seems to be one way but is actually another – from witnesses: https://theblast.com/c/johnny-depp-amber-heard-paint-can?utm_source=r_yahoo I was dubious about the entire relationship since he was happily living common law with the mother of his 2 children until meeting her on a movie set – and she was also involved with someone less well known than he was. Something seemed very off about the entire relationship.
The best way to tell you’re dealing with one is that they love bomb you and seem perfect. No normal human ever seems perfect because people just are never perfect. It’s an act the psychopaths do to get control so they can use you. So if they are charming and seem perfect, and if they are asking you tons of questions… always assume you’re dealing with a psychopath – and get don’t get any further involved – play at being as boring as possible because they hate boring. It’s called the Grey Rock technique. I have avoided every psychopath after the one I stupidly lived with who thank God was on the mild end of the scale…. by using this method of spotting them and avoiding them. Is he charming? Let him go.