By Nicole Hennessy
Glendalee Burns stays busy, attempting to put her mind at ease.
After her daughter was brutally murdered 30 years ago, this is what she does to survive. Sometimes the days drag, seeming to never end, and then the nights come.
Glendalee says it’s hard for her to turn her mind off. She tries working in the beautiful garden that’s flourished in her yard and fixing up her and her husband Tom’s historical Avon Lake home – an unusually warm place, thoughtfully assembled. A shelter from the outside world.
Framed family photos hang on walls and rest on almost every surface. Corrine’s – the Burns’ daughter – one of the largest.
Over the years, Glendalee has received numerous letters updating her and her family on the parole eligibility status of Corrine’s killer. A 2008 glitch alerted her to a parole review that was not actually underway.
For a few years, though, she’s been aware of an upcoming parole review that is not a glitch.
At her kitchen table, she sorts through yellowed letters. Opening envelopes and unfolding papers, she finds the facts that continue to make their way to her mailbox, Tom unable to involve himself too much after having a very tough time coping with the situation. It is up to women to be strong, Glendalee supposes, her blue eyes pale as she stares across the room, trying to find the right words.
In May of 1985 Corrine, an Avon Lake graduate, moved to Florida to start a career handling publicity for Coca-Cola.
The Burns helped their daughter move, settling her into her new apartment, after which they stayed with her for three days. Just a few weeks later, on May 30, they learned Corrine had been assaulted and killed during a burglary.
“Corrine had a cat named Bourbon,” says Glendalee. “I remember saying to her, ‘Hey you could have brought your cat, I just saw a guy walking a dog. Apparently they let pets here.'”
“Mom, you know I couldn’t take care of a cat because I’m going to be traveling, so you keep her,” Glendalee remembers Corrine telling her, explaining that the man she saw walking his dog was her daughter’s murderer, Jeffery P. Davidson – a name she can still barely bring herself to say.
Davidson was ultimately sentenced to four consecutive life sentences with a 32-year mandatory minimum. He had committed several other crimes, including kidnapping and burglary. Though none of his other victims died, some were raped.
Though there is not a possibility of being granted parole at his upcoming hearing, the Burns’ are hoping people will write letters to the parole board on their behalf, an attempt to be sure parole is not granted.
The purpose of this hearing, explained Molly Kellogg-Schmauch, director of communications at the Florida Commission on Offender Review, is to establish a presumptive parole release date and the date of Davidson’s next interview.
Kellogg-Schmauch also said that criminals who are sentenced in Florida today do not have parole eligibility.
“The establishment of that presumptive parole release date does not guarantee release because parole is considered an act of grace and not a right in the State of Florida,” she said.
Clearing dead brush from her garden, which sometimes serves as a meal for Avon Lake’s many deer, Glendalee points out different plants flourishing and those that didn’t do well this year.
“It’s always there,” she says of dealing with the loss of her daughter. “These things, you just don’t compute.”
Those interested in writing letters opposing Davidson’s parole can send them to the following address: Florida Parole Commission 4070 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, Fla. 32399-2450.