Sgt. Joe Harris of the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department was…
Updated: Friday, 24 Jul 2009, 12:55 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 24 Jul 2009, 12:43 AM MDT
LA CUEVA, N.M. (KRQE) - Investigators now know how a burglary stakeout in a remote mountain cabin turned into a gunfight that killed a deputy and the handcuffed burglar later revealed as a suspect in at least seven murders.
On Thursday the FBI reported the pistol Joseph Burgess used to kill the sheriff's sergeant belonged to a man who disappeared on a camping trip in the Jemez Mountains in 2006. Burgess is presumed to have murdered David Eley whose body has not been located, FBI Special Agent Darrin Jones said.
Burgess was known locally as the Cookie Bandit for his decade-long spree of breaking into cabins in the Jemez and stealing mostly food, liquor and clothing. His true identity was not known until after his death when his fingerprints linked him to the 1972 murders of a young couple camping on the west coast of Canada's Vancouver Island.
Late on July 15 or early on July 16 Sandoval County sheriff's Sgt. Joe Harris and Deputy Theresa Moriarty set off on a nighttime mission to catch the Cookie Bandit.
When the deputies arrived in the wooded area near La Cueva about 50 miles north of Albuquerque, they took their gear from their vehicle into the cabin where they were running the stakeout. Their location was among a group of cabins, and both officers were in plain clothes.
KRQE News 13 has learned that for some unknown reason Moriarty left her service weapon in the vehicle. Harris, a veteran of 27 years in law enforcement, had two weapons so he gave her one although she was not familiar with its operation.
Sometime later Burgess came in through a window. According to New Mexico State Police Harris and Moriarty both identified themselves as officers and ordered Burgess to turn around.
Burgess, with his back to the deputies, didn't respond. He refused to turn around, and there was a struggle.
"The two of them were able to take into custody and handcuff Burgess," spokesman Peter Olson of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety told News 13.
Burgess was now handcuffed with his arms behind his back. However he had a .357 Magnum revolver hidden within reach and was able to pull it out. He started shooting wildly with the first bullet hitting Harris in the hand as the sergeant reached for the killer.
The second shot hit Harris in the groin severing an artery. As Harris lay mortally wounded Moriarty was unable to fire the weapon Harris had given her.
"Burgess then started to fire at Moriarty who attempted to return fire but wasn't able to work the gun, handed it back to Harris, and Harris then shot and killed Burgess," Olson said.
Moriarty then ran to a neighboring cabin and asked residents to call for help because the forested country lacked both cell-phone service and police radio coverage. News 13 has learned supervisors at the Sandoval County Sheriff's Office did not know where the pair was.
When emergency crews finally reached Harris they rushed him to an Albuquerque hospital where he died.
State Police gave the serial number from Burgess's revolver to the FBI which traced it to its sale to David Eley. His family reported him missing in July 2006.
"It was presumed Eley died on the National Forest, and officials made several unsuccessful attempts to locate Eley's remains," the FBI's Jones said in a statement. "Officials now believe Eley may be another of Burgess' victims."
Also on Thursday Arizona investigators said they are taking another look at Burgess in the murders of Lisa Gurrieri and Brandon Runbough near Bumblebee about 50 miles north of Phoenix in October 2003. They were on a camping trip, and both were shot in the head.
Burgess was initially a suspect but had been excluded for lack of evidence.
Police had been hunting for Burgess since 1972 after his fingerprints were found on the belongings the Leif Carlsson and Ann Durrant. They were shot to death while camping near Tofino, British Columbia, in a crime with religious overtones.
Canadian investigators described Burgess as religious fanatic who often ended his phrases in, "Amen." They suspected he may have become outraged because Carlsson and Durrant were sexually intimate without benefit of marriage.
Burgess's name also surfaced in the similar killings of a young,
unmarried couple camped out on a northern California beach in 2004.
Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall were found shot to death in
circumstances similar to the Canadian murders.