“I love rock ‘n’ roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby...”
It was one of the top hits of the ‘80s: I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
And in 1982, it was one of 18-year-old Lynn Burdick’s favorite songs. “She would blast that song and dance around upstairs in her bedroom,” Lynn’s niece Debbie Davine told Dateline. Debbie was a toddler at the time.
The youngest of four siblings, Lynn, who was still in high school, was living with her parents in their blue ranch-style home in Florida, Massachusetts. Debbie’s father, Brian, was Lynn’s only brother.
One of Lynn’s older sisters, Fay Martin, said that the family had a farm with animals and lots of produce. “We used to grow our own produce. Potatoes, turnips, corn,” Fay told Dateline. “We had cows, pigs, and chickens.” It was about 25 acres of land and growing up, the four Burdick children would help take care of it. “It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” Fay said.
Despite the chores that came with running a farm, Fay said her family always made time for one another. “We always had family picnics over the weekend,” Fay told Dateline. “Me and [Lynn] used to play Frisbee out on the road.”
Lynn relished every minute of it. Debbie said that her aunt was very shy and “was a homebody and loved to be with her family.” She also excelled in school. “She pretty much loved doing anything school,” Debbie said. “She was very, very smart. She was supposed to be getting high honors when she graduated.”
In 1982, Lynn was a senior at McCann Technical Vocational High School. Debbie said Lynn didn’t plan on going to college because of the cost and the fact that her mother, Debbie’s grandmother, was very sick. “She used to care for my grandma a lot,” Debbie said. Lynn’s mother had emphysema.
Fay told Dateline that her sister was very loving and that in addition to caring for their mother, Lynn was quick to volunteer her free time. “She’d just do anything for anybody,” Fay said. “She used to babysit all of her nieces and nephews and even the neighborhood kids.”
Lynn also regularly helped out at their church and participated in charity events for muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Debbie said that the charity events were particularly important to Lynn, because her best friend, Theresa, had muscular dystrophy and one of her nephews had cerebral palsy.
On top of all her responsibilities, Lynn also held a job at a local shop owned by her cousin Gary Burdick and his wife, Sue. It was called the Barefoot Peddler. Debbie told Dateline the population in Florida, Massachusetts was roughly 700 people at the time and stores were scarce. “They don't have any grocery stores or anything like that,” Debbie said. “Actually, the Barefoot Peddler was the only store up there.”
According to Fay, the Barefoot Peddler was “a little tiny store that sold beer and groceries,” just five minutes from the Burdicks’ home. “When she was working there, she had to have somebody there with her for a while because she was only 17 and couldn't sell beer or cigarettes,” Fay said. But in February 1982, Lynn turned 18 and was finally able to work alone.
On April 17, 1982, Lynn went shopping with her mother and later attended a small gathering at a local bar with her brother Brian and his wife, Bernadette -- Debbie’s parents. Debbie said that her father dropped Lynn off at work after the party.
While Lynn was now able to work alone, Fay told Dateline that Lynn’s friend Theresa would usually keep her company during her shift. But Theresa was busy that night. And the shop owners, Gary and Sue, stayed home that evening because their son was sick. So Lynn was on her own.
Fay told Dateline that meant it was Lynn’s ”first shift by herself, working, like, the later hours closing the store down.”
At around 8 p.m. Debbie said Sue called the store to check on Lynn. But before long, a customer came in. Debbie told Dateline that Lynn “was on the phone with Sue when the person came in. She said, ‘I have to help this person with some stuff,’” and hung up.
Debbie said her father, Brian, called the store around 8:30 p.m. to see if Lynn needed a ride home when her shift ended at 9:00. Lynn didn’t answer. They didn’t think anything of it, at first.
“They thought she was busy,” Debbie said. “And then a short time after that a local had gone into the store and saw that it was abandoned. He called my family to let them know that Lynn wasn't there.”
Debbie said her father, Brian, immediately went to the store and called the police. He notified them that his sister was missing. “She didn't have a boyfriend, so the thought has always been, obviously, that she was taken,” Debbie said. “She wasn’t the type to just run off on her family.”
Dateline reached out to Berkshire District Attorney’s Office regarding Lynn’s case. Director of Communications Andrew McKeever shared a statement released by his office on the 40th anniversary of Lynn’s disappearance. It confirmed that the “State Police began investigating the disappearance of the then 18-year-old Burdick on April 17, 1982, after a customer found Barefoot Peddler's Country Store on Route 2 in Florida, Mass., where Burdick was working that evening, vacant.”
Fay told Dateline that the book her sister Lynn had been reading was still open on the counter. Money was also missing from the register, a little over a hundred dollars. “Under the counter, there was a container with money in it that whoever did this, did not know about,” Fay said.
At the time, Fay lived in Monroe Bridge, Massachusetts, which is about an hour away from Florida. She told Dateline that she didn’t have a car to drive to Florida that night, but she got there a few days later and recalled the nightmare it was for her parents. “My mother was a wreck. My father was a wreck,” Fay remembered. “We searched everywhere.”
According to the statement from the district attorney’s office, “Police and volunteers conducted a massive search for Burdick,” and noted that “immediately following her disappearance, the community joined together to offer a $2,500 reward for information.”
Fay said the search continued for about three weeks. “I know my brother went into a few abandoned camps on the mountain, but never came up with anything,” Fay said. “They couldn't find any trace of her. You know, no tracks or anything.”
The family said they later learned that on the night of Lynn’s disappearance, a college student was almost abducted just a few miles away from The Barefoot Peddler.
Debbie told Dateline that the student “broke away from the guy, took off, and called the police.”
The DA’s office backed that up. “Police suspect foul play in Burdick's disappearance,” their statement read, “and the investigation remains heavily focused on an attempted abduction that occurred 45 minutes earlier, 13 miles away in Williamstown.” The statement noted that “police have followed up on hundreds of tips throughout the country” over the years.
Lynn’s case eventually went cold, the family said. But Debbie told Dateline it was never cold for their family, and her grandfather never gave up looking for his daughter.
“He had articles, newspapers -- he saved every single article about her,” Debbie said. “He never gave up. My grandma never gave up.” Debbie told Dateline that her grandparents kept Lynn’s room the same as she left it and kept the porch light on, just in case she found her way home.
“Every time my dad went out, he was always looking,” Fay told Dateline. Their mother died in 1990 and their father in 2012. “Their dying breath was to find her and bring her home,” Fay said.
And now, 40 years later, Debbie has taken over for her grandparents and is pushing for justice for the aunt she barely knew. She runs the ‘Finding Lynn Burdick’ Facebook page. “We did a fundraiser and we had billboards last year put up throughout the local towns,” Debbie told Dateline. But she said there have been no new leads on her aunt’s case in years.
The Berkshire District Attorney's Office’s statement on Lynn’s case said they “recently hired a special investigator to bring fresh eyes to all unresolved homicides.” Debbie told Dateline that she keeps in touch with the investigator assigned to her aunt’s case. The DA’s office also noted that “The Massachusetts State Police Unresolved Cases Unit featured Lynn Burdick on a deck of cards distributed throughout the Massachusetts State Prison system in hopes that someone there would share information.”
At the time of her disappearance, Lynn was described to be about 5’5” tall and had dark brown straight hair and glasses. She was last seen wearing a McCann school jacket and class ring, and jeans. She would be 58 years old today.
All of Lynn’s siblings are still alive and remain in the Florida, Massachusetts area. Debbie’s parents, Brian and Bernadette, live in the same house that Brian, Fay and Lynn grew up in more than 40 years ago.
Lynn's room is no longer the same as she left it, but the family will always leave a light on for her.
Anyone with information should contact the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit at 413-499-1112.