Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

Court hearing in decades-old Las Vegas slayings delayed until December

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Christopher DeVargas

Nathan Burkett, accused in the decades-old deaths of two Las Vegas women, appears in court at the Regional Justice Center, Friday Oct. 5, 2012.

Nathan Burkett in court: Oct. 5, 2012

Nathan Burkett, accused in the decades-old deaths of two Las Vegas women, appears in court at the Regional Justice Center, Friday Oct. 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

A preliminary hearing Friday morning for Nathaniel Burkett, 62, the man accused of killing two Las Vegas women decades ago, was continued until Dec. 7 in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Metro Police allege DNA evidence ties Burkett to the deaths of Barbara Ann Cox, 22, and Tina Mitchell, 27. Authorities arrested Burkett in early August in Mississippi. He was booked Aug. 7 into the Clark County Detention Center, where he remains without bail.

Special public defender David Schieck spoke quietly with Burkett — seated in a wheelchair with his hands and feet shackled — before the brief hearing. Schieck told Justice of the Peace Eric A. Goodman the defense and prosecution agreed they needed more time to review additional evidence before a preliminary hearing.

Members of Cox’s family were in court Friday and vowed they would follow the case every step of the way.

"It's hard, but I'd really like to know what (Barbara's) last words were," Cox's sister, 60-year-old Connie Bainbridge, said before the hearing. "I don't understand their sick minds."

Bainbridge, the oldest of five siblings, described Cox as an attractive woman, often sought after by men, who was street smart and good with children.

"Everybody liked her," she said. "Some people just have that thing about them — that sparkle in her eye."

Family members believe Cox likely struggled to escape her killer, perhaps even calling out for help. Police said Cox was found strangled April 22, 1978, at an apartment complex in the 200 block of West Bonanza Road.

More than a decade and a half later, on Feb. 2, 1994, Mitchell was discovered strangled at an apartment complex in the 900 block of H Street. The two locations are about a half mile from each other.

Police have labeled Burkett a “potential serial killer.” Detectives are investigating whether Burkett may be connected to any other unsolved slayings.

Burkett has been charged with two counts each of murder and sexual assault in connection with the deaths of Cox and Mitchell.

Burkett is no stranger to the criminal justice system. His criminal history includes two manslaughter convictions — one in 1982 in Mississippi and another two decades later in Nevada.

Burkett served six years of a 115-month sentence after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the 2002 death of Valetter Jean Bousley. The 41-year-old was found strangled to death in the 1300 block of F Street.

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