Springfiled Court of Appeal Case Transcripts in the Burgess Case:
|Helen Burgess House in 1960
|511 Maries County Rd, Dixon Missouri USA
|The Burgess House Maries County Road Dixon Mo
|photo taken by Ralph Burgess in 1993 from a car window
|Helen Annette Burgess circa 1980
|Ralph Burgess and Helen Burgess in 1988
|Winter of 1988, Helen invited me in for a cup of coffee
|Lucille Martin's School Class of 1959
|Gunda Burgess in second row with glasses
Burgess Case, Court Transcripts in State of Missouri, versus Frank & Helen Burgess
Maries County Gazette Vienna, Missouri, Thursday, August 2, 1962
Ruling is Upheld In Juvenile Case: In the first ruling of its kind under the new Juvenile Code of The State of Missouri,
the Springfield Court of Appeals has upheld the decision of Judge Emory Allison in what has been termed "the Burgess
case" by area residents, Harold S. Hutchison, prosecuting attorney for Maries county reports. The opinion can be released
to the press later this week, he said. The trial, which could not be reported earlier under the terms of the Juvenile Code
relating to publications, removed from custody of a Sgt. Burgess and wife the five German children they had adopted.
488 Mo. 359 SOUTH WESTERN REPORTER 2d SERIES In the Interest of Gunda BURGESS, Ralph Burgess, Faith Burgess, Loren Lee
Burgess,and Billy Burgess, Children under 17 yearsof Age.
STATE of Missouri, Harold S. Hutchison, Maries County Juvenile Officer, Petitioner, Respondent,
Frank C. BURGESS, Respondent, Appellant. No. 8069. Springfield Court of Appeals. July 30, 1962.
IN RE BURGESS Cite as 359 S.W.2d 484 Petition by county juvenile officer fortermination of foster parents parental rights.
The Circuit Court, Juvenile Division, Maries County, E. W. Allison, J.,rendered judgment terminating their rights and
the foster parents appealed. The Court of Appeals, McDowell, J., held that evidence established that foster parents had willfully
neglected to provide children with necessary care for their health, morals or Welfare fur one year or more immediately prior
to filing of petition for termination of their parental rights and established justification for termination of such rights
in both foster parents.
----------------Affirmed. n RE BURGESS----Cite as 359 S.W. 2d 484
The States evidence consisted of a report made by the Director of Welfare of Maries County and the testimony of ten witnesses,
covering some 140 pages. The evidence is that Frank C. Burgess for more than a year prior to the filing of the petition in
question was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; that he was only home during holidays, Christmas and Easter; that the
custody of the children in question was entrusted to Mr. Burgess wife Helen. Most of the time she and the children lived In
or near Dixon, Missouri, but on December 15, 1960, she purchased a two and one half acre tract of land four or five miles
east of Hayden, about a quarter of a mile off the highway in a wooded area.
The report of the welfare officer, who visited in the home, showed that the house in which they lived had four rooms,
Above, the Burgess House on 511 Maries County Rd. Dixon, Missouri 65459,USA
below from rear left to right, Gunda, Faith, Ralph, Lonnnie, and Billy circa 1960))
The children attended school principally in Dixon. Helen Burgess House, 511 Maries County Road, Dixon, Missouri,65459,
In May, Mrs. Burgess secured employment at Meta where she worked for about six weeks. During the term of the employment
the children were left at home in the care
of the oldest girl, Gunda. who was 12.
Mrs. Burgess would get up at 5:00 o'clock, prepare her own breakfast and leave home by 6:00 and not return until 5:00
in the evening. Gunda testified that her mother hit her
In the face with her fist, threw her down on the gravel or rocks and broke a front tooth out. She showed the court the
false tooth that replaced the one broken out She stated that because she had not kept her drawer properly her mother threw
her down on the rocks and sat on top of her; that that was when the tooth was knocked out; that the rocks cut her lip and
made a big sore.
She stated that her mother had hit her quite a few times and knocked out her teeth; that she would just hit them
with anything she could get her hands on; that she not only hit her but also hit Faith and Ralph;
that she did not hit the younger children so much. \She testified that she did hit Billy with a board; that when Faith
wet her pants she took the pants and rubbed the skin off of her face; that she had seen her mother knock Faith down on the
concrete and cut her chin; that when Faith came out of the toilet her mother threw her down on the concrete floor and made
a big scar on her face; that she took her hand and pushed her down on the concrete and that was what caused the scar.
She also stated she was present when her mother shoved Faith's face down in a tub of ice water and held her face under
because she had spilled some water on the floor; that she then took Faiths clothes off and made her carry in wood naked while
there was snow on the ground. She testified that Faith still had a scar over her left eye from the injuries received when
her mother pushed her head in the water.
She gave this testimony:
Q. Now, have you seen your mother
strike Ralph with a-any board or a fist or anything?
A. With her hammer and
screwdriver and hoe and * * * . I cant
She said when Ralph did not fix the garden
right her mother took the hoe and hit
him over the head with it; that she had seen
her hit Ralph with a board, She said the
time Ralph ran away her mother had hit him
with a board that held the window open;
that that was the day after she had pushed
Faith into the dresser and blacked her eye
and Faith had run off.
On cross examination she admitted that
her parents had bought clothing, toys. dishes
and dolls, for the children; that Faith had
a bicycle, Billy and Lonnie had tricycles;
that they were given to them at Christmas.
She admitted they had plenty of food. She
testified that it was when Faith had folded
pillow cases that her mother had banged her
into the dresser; that she did it quite a few
times; each time Faiths head hit the
dresser. She stated her father had whipped
her but not very many times; that he
whipped her with a switch; that when he
corrected the other children he used reasonable punishment.
Ralph Burgess testified that he is in the
fourth grade in school, nine years old ; that
he had been in this country two years; that
he came over with Billy and Gunda.
He said his parents were at that time living in
Dixon but the next day after he arrived
they moved to the country and he went to
another school, then came back and went to
Dixon school. At the time he came over he
testified his father was in Fort Leonard Wood but, later, went to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is now.
He testified that
his father left all five children with his
mother out in the country ; that later they
moved over, around Hayden in Maires
County and his mother changed them from
the Dixon school to a school in Maries
County ; that she got a Job at Meta in a factory;
that she would go to work about 6:00
o'clock in the morning and return about 5 :00
or 6:00 o'clock in the evening; that the five
children stayed out in the country by themselves
and Gunda did the cooking.
He said they went over to the neighbors sometimes
to get milk and to play with their children.
He stated that the day before he ran
away on the 3rd of July, his mother
whipped him, first with a board and then
with a switch ; that she hit him on the legs
and head he had a bandage on his head
where he was cut. He testified that one day he
opened the back door and it came loose; that
she hammered the door shut and then hit him
on the head with the hammer and hit him with the
steel part in the stomach and he lost his breath.
He gave this answer:
Yeah, she hit all us three with the
hammer on the head. She said shes going
to hit us in the head with a hammer because
she asked her who put that blue dishpan
with the stuff in it. and so she-she.--she
said if shes gonna hit-hit us all, every one
of us in the head with the hammer until we tell her.
So we all didn't do it. So she hit us in the head with
a hammer. She was gonna hit us again so I said I did it.
So she took the hammer and hit me on the head
all the ways and I ran to empty it.
Q. Now, Ralph, tell the Judge how
often would she-how often would she whip
you in the two years you've been over here.
how often has she whipped you?
A. Well, she just about whipped us every day, just
about, but not every day, but a week, in the
middle, Saturdays mostly.
Q. And what would she generally whip
A. A board. And then Miss Siegler told her about
the switch and she started using the switch and board both.
Once I had to eat a watermelon rind, rind
and all, because I didn't-she didn't tell me
that she was going to make them out of pickles.
So I took quite a few watermelons
and threw them over the chicken pens because
thats where we keep them all the
time. So I threw it over there, and she
asked me what I did with my watermelon
rind, and I said, I threw it over the chicken
pen. And she said, Go out there and get
it. So I did. He testified she made him
eat these rinds; that she gave him five minutes
to eat them and she said if I didn't eat
them within that time she would poke them
down me and hit me with a piece of wood
from behind the stove.
He testified that he heard the testimony of his teachers about him coming to school with blue marks and a cut on his face.
He said he got the marks when his mother slapped him off the piano bench when he didn't play the notes right;
that when he went to school the next day Mrs. Bremer
saw the markings; that he had gone to school other times with marks on him where
his mother had hit him and the teacher saw every one of them.
He testified that he had seen his mother hit Gunda with a board and with her fist and also had seen her hit Faith
in the face with her fist. Witness testified that his father was present sometimes when his mother beat him
with a board.
He said the first time when she beat him on the head it started to bleed
and his father told her to stop but she just kept on and finally he stood up and said "Now, quit, that's enough".
He stated he ran from her; that she caught him and beat him on the head with a board and his daddy
wrapped it up for him. He testified his mother said she was going to send him to an
orphanage and that night he slept in the car. He testified that his father was nice to
them until he came back front Kansas, when he started beating them with a board. He
said his father came back on June 30th before he ran away on July 3rd; that he
beat him twice before he ran away.
Sheriff Shockley testified that he was called to Haydens store on July 4th and
there picked up Ralph Burgess; that at the time he observed bruised places on the back
of his legs and a cut on his forehead; that the boy told him he was afraid to go back home.
The sheriff turned the boy over to Mr. Hutchison, Juvenile Court officer who called In Mrs. Elley, Welfare Director of
Maries County; that Mr. Burgess was like-wise
called and he brought in the rest of the children. The sheriff testified he was
present when the other children came in and observed that Faith had a cut over her left eye and it was all black.
IN RE BURGESS Mo.
Cite as 359 S.W.2d 489
Faith Burgess testified that she is eight years of age; that she went to school in
Dixon; that since her parents have moved into Maries County she had been going to
school over there. She said she was in the second grade and would be In the third next
year. She testified that Mrs. Opperman and Mrs. Bremer were her teachers in Dixon;
that she heard her teachers tell about her nose and checks being skinned up and that it
was done by her mother. She said her mother had rubbed her wet pants over her
face until it was all raw. She stated that one time she was dusting and had to go to
the bathroom but her mother said she couldn't until she had finished; that she ran
to the concrete porch and her mother pushed her down on her chin. She showed the
court the scar on her chin that was caused, by the fall.
She testified she spilled water one time on the floor and her mother pushed her head down in a barrel of Ice water and
held It under the water; that the reason she did this was because she spilled a little water when she was writing on
a blackboard and her mother grabbed her and stuck her head down In the rain barrel and cut her face on the barrel; that
the scar on her face was caused by that injury; that her mother had struck her in the face other times with
a stick or board or anything.
Witness stated when she came to Mr. Hutchison's office she had a black eye and a cut over her left eye.
She said she had folded some pillow cases and did not fold them right; that her mother then
pushed her against the knob of the dresser several times; that this caused her to have the black eye and cut over her
left eye. She testified she had gone to school before this time with black eyes caused when her mother would hit her in the
face with her fist. She stated she would have to stay out of school several days at a time because of
her black eyes and scabs on her face; that her mother had told her to say she fell down
and she stated she would say she bumped it.
She stated that her mother threatened to beat her If she told what caused the wounds;
that the day she ran away from home her mother said she was going to send her to an
orphanage and had her get all her clothes ready.
She said the reason she ran away was because of the beating her mother had given her with a board on her legs.
Marguerite Elley testified that she was Director of the County Welfare. Office of Maries County and was present In the
office of the juvenile Court officer and there
talked to Ralph Burgess; that he had blue stripes on the calves of his legs, behind his
knees, a cut on the top of his head and a large lump on the back of his head; that
the boy told her these Injuries were caused when his mother whipped him with a board.
She testified that the bruises and welts were still in evidence. She said- she was present
when Mr. and Mrs. Burgess brought the other children into the office; that she had Gunda, Ralph, Faith and Loren go
down to her office where she was joined by the sheriff and the juvenile court officer.
She stated Ralph spoke only of being beaten on his legs with a board; that Gunda, Faith and Loren stated their mother
had whipped Ralph and that she always
whipped them with a board; that Faith had run away a day or two before Ralph but she got lost and returned.
She testified that the children told her that Faith's black eye was caused because she had folded the pillow cases
lengthwise; that her mother a had requested they he folded crosswise; that when the mother found Faith putting
them In the drawer she bumped her head against the dresser or chest of drawers.
She stated Faiths eye was swollen, bruised clear down below her check bone and there
was a small cut In the eye brow; that her eye was completely black. She said the
reason the children were absent from school was because of the beatings received from their mother.
She described the home in which the mother and children lived as being a small four room house, two bedrooms,
in a remote area where it was very rough and wooded.
Leroy Opperman, Principal in the Dixon schools testified that Faith and Gunda attended
the school where he taught; that during the second month of the last school year Faith came to school
with the skin rubbed off her nose and her check and nose were almost a solid scab; that she had been out of
school all of the preceding week. He testified that he observed Faith and Ralph coming to school with injuries
on their faces numerous times; that it appeared to him there was never a week or two at the most that there weren't some
bruises or cuts on their faces.
His testimony was that the children would be absent from school from five to eight days before they
would come back with bruises on their faces lots of times; that their faces were bandaged
so the teachers could not see exactly the extent of the injuries; that Faiths eye and under her eye brow and- chin were
bandaged but you could see the bruises on them.
He said Ralph came to school with bruised cheeks and Faith with black eyes;
that Ralph's injuries seemed to be finger marks. The school attendance records were
offered in evidence showing the children were out of school most of the time. Some-times they were out the entire month.
Witness testified that Mrs. Burgess would write and say she feared Faith had rheumatic
Fever and that Major Purcell had ordered her to bed; that he called Fort Leonard Wood and found that Purcell was a nurse
and that she denied she had ordered the child to bed.
He stated that Faith had more cuts and bruises than the others.
490 Mo. 359 SOUTH WESTERN REPORTER, 2d SERIES
Witness stated that because of the Injuries appearing on the children he contacted
Mrs. Benage, county health nurse, and asked her to visit in the home; that
she made her report that the mother was trying to discipline them too severely.
All of the evidence was that the children were well behaved and their conduct was good,
both at school and on the bus from school to their home.
Helen Opperman, a first grade teacher in Dixon schools, testified that she had Faith
in her class in the year 1959/60.
She described the injuries to Faith's nose and cheeks; that the child told her she had
wet her pants and her mother had rubbed her nose in it. She said her cheeks were
bruised and the skin was about all off her nose and her face just looked bruised. When
asked how many times she had come to school with bruises she stated it was hard
to tell but would say six to eight times and maybe more.
She testified that Ralph was in the second grade; that he came to school with one eye extremely black and with
bruises across his face; that he was out of school several times because of an injury to his foot.
She said Faith came to school with blood in the wrinkles around her mouth and she said it was caused by
her mother forcing her to eat ice cream.
She corroborated her husbands testimony that Faiths attendance was not regular.
She said she reported the condition of the children to the principal. She examined the scab on Faiths face and testified
it extended from between the eyes to the tip of her nose; that it was sore, maybe solid, all through the cheek. She stated
that other times she had observed bandages on each of Faiths eyebrows and said that the children were well behaved and
there was no disciplinary problem with them in the school.
Mrs. Bremer, a teacher In the Dixon schools, testified that both Faith and Ralph
attended her classes; that she observed these children on various occasions coming
to school with cuts and bruises on them; that Faith came with her eyes blacked. She
said this happened many times. She observed the cuts on Faith's chin and top of her head. She said she came to school
with scabs on her cheeks and nose.
She gave this answer:
"Practically the whole time she was in my room she had scars on her face.
She was unable to say the exact number of days the children were absent but she
said they were absent more or less continuously during the two years. She particularly
remembered slap marks across Ralph;s eyes and on his face. She said the
marks were blue or black and his eyes were black and she testified that this wasn't the
only occasion she had noticed injuries on him; that there. were other times when he
490 Mo. 359 SOUTH WESTERN REPORTER 2d Series
She said Ralph would he absent from school frequently and when he would return he would have these injuries.
She testified she talked to Mrs. Burgess in the park; that Mrs. Burgess told her that Faith did not want to come to school;
that she had piddled around and missed the bus and, as a punishment she made her clean out the outdoor toilet and she
said she was going to take her home and make her move a woodpile.
She testified that Faith told her she wanted to come to school; that after the talk Mrs. Burgess came to the school and
asked for Faith's things; that when she asked what Faith was going to do Mrs. Burgess told her it was none of her business;
that Faith never came back to school.
Mrs. Eunice Scooter, a housewife, testified that when she went to pick up her daughter at school she saw Faith with her
face and cheeks all skinned up; that she had a conversation with Mrs. Burgess about it and she stated Faith had a habit
wetting her pants so she just took them off, they were heavy cotton pants, and rubbed the hide off of her nose with them.
The testimony of appellants was principally a denial of the charges made but Mrs. Burgess did admit that she had broken
Faiths arm but stated she was playing with her when she did it.
The custody of these children at least for more than one year while Frank C. Burgess was stationed in Leavenworth,
Kansas, as a member of the army, has been In the care of Mrs. Burgess.
These five children have been punished repeatedly in a cruel and inhuman manner, leaving sears on the bodies of the
three oldest children which caused two of the children Ralph and Faith, to run away from home. The evidence by
appellants' witness, a neighbor living a half mile from the home, stated that Gunda, while In his home, cried and
said that somebody would have to help them because Mrs. Burgess was so mean.
We agree with the decision of the trial court that Mrs. Burgess willfully neglected to provide the children with proper
necessary parental care essential to the morals, health and welfare of said children and that the court was justified
finding that it was in the best interest and welfare of said children that the parental rights of Frank C. and Helen Burgess
should be terminated.
That the behavior, environment and associations of the children are injurious to their welfare in that for the past two
the foster mother, Helen Annette Burgess has on repeated occasions Inflicted excessive punishment on said children to
the point where it endangered their life and limb.
490 Mo. 359 SOUTH WESTERN REPORTER, 2d SERIES
We did not set out all of the facts. While the evidence disclosed that proper clothing and food was furnished these minor
children it also disclosed that the home, bought by Mrs. Burgess, was not paid for; that she borrowed all the money
from a neighbor, Mrs. Corey, to pay for the same and there is still more than $1,000 due; that most of the fixtures and
furniture in the home were bought on the installment plan and have been turned back to the sellers; that all of the
household goods have been packed for removal to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, out of this state. The evidence is that the
children have been placed in a suitable home and are now happy and contented.
We find no merit in the alleged errors of appellants.
The judgment is affirmed.
RUARK. P. J., and STONE, J., concur.
July 30, 1962, Springfield Court of Appeals, Missouri No. 8069 Cite as 359 S.W. 2d 484