JENKINS COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – A 74-year-old father and business man went missing from his Jenkins County junkyard nearly ten years ago. With $20,000 in reward money, the family still wants answers.
Nine years, five months, and counting.
Janet Greene and her sister, Felicia Steverson are waiting. And as they clear debris from their land, memories of their dad appear.
The junkyard or salvage yard some would say is where L.C. Burroughs turned other people’s trash into treasure. The father and grandfather went missing in September of 2013, from the very place he found joy, at home fixing cars. It was a business that became lucrative.
“He had people coming from all counties,” his daughter Janet Greene told us. “Jenkins, Emanuel, Burke, Screven, Bulloch, Richmond, you name it.”
But long before his success in the Butts community of Jenkins County, his happy place was in the kitchen.
Greene added, “The first memory of my dad was we were very little and we lived in Brooklyn, New York and him cooking breakfast for us.”
“Sometimes on Saturdays he would get us and take us to the restaurant. And he had a key to the restaurant and would prepare these soups and things in these big, giant pots and stuff,” said Felicia Burroughs Steverson, the youngest daughter of L.C. Burroughs.
That was life in New York at an upscale restaurant near Wall Street, called Michael 1. Glasses. Matches. All still part of the family’s collection. The Burroughs family would leave the Big Apple in their ’47 Chevy and purchase property in Jenkins County in the mid 70s. Not letting his food skills go to waste, chef Louis Charles or L.C. as he was affectionately called, opened a grocery store.
“We would go to Statesboro to the wholesale Ramsey. And we would actually pick up food to sell in the store and my dad would let people have food on credit,” Greene recalled.
While he kept families fed, his wife owned a business at the home too. She was a cosmetologist at Marie’s House of Style. And when those two businesses closed, L.C. started his junkyard.
Sheriff Robert Oglesby knew the man with the apron from his victories in the nearby Garfield Washpot Cookout Festival. And from time to time, he’d also send customers who needed car parts his way.
“He was the man in Butts,” Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby told Cold Case Project. “He was the man everywhere he went, in town. He didn’t meet a stranger. He was a good hearted man.”
That kindness was sometimes taken advantage of by people and Burroughs’ daughters told NewsChannel 6 just that back in 2013.
“He said everybody would steal from him, everyday. Somebody would steal from him everyday,” Steverson told us in 2013.
“Days before all this took place he did get with me and tell me he wanted to talk with me on some items that were missing around his junkyard,” the sheriff said.
He also told us some of those items were batteries and parts. But Burroughs never made it to his office to officially report the thefts.
The sheriff told us Burroughs’ daily routine.
“He’d go to the gas station everyday. He’d go to the Huddle House,” he said.
Added to that daily routine, Burroughs played his numbers each day at Brinson’s BBQ on Highway 23, which is down the street from his home. And his daughters, who were living in the Atlanta area then, said he was seen doing most of these things the morning of the day he disappeared.
“We got the call in that Mr. L.C. had not been seen for a period of time and when we come out here, we come out here in this area and his truck was pretty much right where it was,” Sheriff Oglesby said.
Family members told us the truck’s door was left open and the keys were still in the ignition. Some people questioned what was going on, but thought nothing of it.
“He had saw his car and he thought my dad had jumped in the car with somebody else, so he sat there on the stoop and waited for about 30 minutes to an hour. He left, came back,” Steverson said.
Another person saw him getting gas in Millen around 7 o’clock that morning. Law enforcement confirms once Burroughs returned from his morning routine, he went back home. And while he was talking with someone on the phone in the car, he pulled up and began arguing with someone unexpectedly at the junkyard. The phone disconnected without word of who or what he saw. That cell phone, though never recovered, pinged off a few cell phone towers near the home. His daughters believe he met foul play after seeing someone steal from his junkyard and more than likely, he had a lot of cash on him.
“That weekend we called different groups and they come in and they brought dogs and they brought people and we split up,” Sheriff’s Oglesby spoke of the search.
“A lot of the evidence, if something was out there, people had done trampled over,” Steverson said about what investigators shared with her.
The Sheriff said those groups and law enforcement searched nearby and outside of Jenkins County. All that was located on the junkyard was a pair of reading glasses owned by Burroughs and a white shoe of his. There were also suspects at one point. But the sheriff feels because they have never been able to pinpoint what happened, the investigation, now in the hands of the GBI, remains stagnant.
“We got descriptions of cars, description of people but no names, he said. “We run down a couple of cars, but nothing panned out of them.”
Most of the cars in the junkyard have been sold by his daughters, except for a few to maintain the face of the business. Greene keeps several acres tidy while staying between Millen and Atlanta. She told us a different theory.
“There were people that were trying to buy the property from him. They were trying to buy his business and he kept telling them he was not going to sell because he didn’t need the money, but he was being pressured,” Greene admitted.
There’s a $20,000 reward for anyone who can help bring L.C. Burroughs home. Greene said he would probably be wearing mechanic clothing, such as blue khaki pants, a shirt and boots. His daughters said he can be anywhere, but keeping a light spirit, they remain hopeful.
“You see your dad again after ten years, what are you going to say to him,” we asked.
Steverson answered, “I’m probably going to crack a joke. Dad, you have missed so much. There is so much. Good and bad.”
“Hey daddy, where you been? And just laugh,” Greene smiled.
There’s a bit of hope. Steverson told us police have her DNA in the event that her father’s case needs it.
Anyone with any information about the disappearance of L.C. Burroughs should contact the GBI at 912-871-1121.
Next time on the Cold Case Project, we bring you to Richmond County where 28-year-old Michael “Tiny” Frails was found dead in his apartment on Richmond Hill Road in June of 1992. What family and law enforcement need to get justice and close the case.
Photojournalist: Regynal McKie