Crime and Punishment LAPD

The Death of Lily Burk…Arrest Made – UPDATED


UPDATE 7:a.m: The LAPD has arrested 50-year-old Charlie Samuel who is being held without bail.

There will be a press conference this morning at 11 a.m. The actual arrest was made by two Metro mounted officers although the lead detectives out of Central are the ones who have been going without sleep and working this case without stopping. I don’t believe they went home last night.

This whole tragic affair is about a botched robbery.

Richard Winton at the LA Times reports that Lily Burk was abducted near to the campus of Southwestern University School of Law on Wilshire Blvd, just east of Vermont, where she had gone to pick up some papers for her mother, who teaches at the law school.

More after the press conference.

1:30 A.M.

OKAY HERE’S WHAT I KNOW: The official word from the LAPD is that an arrest is “imminent” in the murder of 17-year-old Lily Burk. Unofficially, however, a couple of the officers with whom I’ve been talking tonight have dropped several large hints that the police have already picked up their suspect but that he (and someone did say “he”) has not yet been booked.

This is not confirmed. But logic suggests that the person in question is presently in the company of the LAPD. I am writing this post at about 1:30 a.m., and am told that there will be word this morning.

In the meantime, police have said that Lily was randomly targeted, and that she did not know the person who attacked her.

I do know also know from my talks with Central division that the detectives have been concentrating their investigation in the neighborhoods nearby to the division, not elsewhere, which likely means the Skid Row area or thereabout.

An arrest will not bring this beautiful, smart, wonderful girl back, nor will it take away even the smallest bit of the unimaginable grief felt by her parents right now.

But if an arrest is indeed made, we will all still be glad for it.


NOTE ONE: There are many other issues and stories to talk about. I will get to some of them later today. Some late tonight. For now, I’m staying on this story.
NOTE TWO: Because Greg Burk, Lily Burk’s father, is a writer (He worked for years at the LA Weekly), and because Lily was a student at Oakwood, a school that tends to draw creative types, Lily Burk’s friends (and her parents’ friends and her friends’ parents) tend to be, as a group, very articulate. As a consequence, there are a a lot of people around the web expressing their anguish with painful clarity.

Nancy Rommelman is one. ….Another is the former 60 Minutes producer who blogs at The Heathen. Still another is my friend, Nick Goldberg, the LA Times Deputy Editorial Pages Editor, who has been acting the family’s spokesman.

And then there are Lily’s friends, many of whom have written heartbreaking notes on the web page that has been set up on Facebook in her memory.


  • AP – “Police have arrested a 50-year-old man on investigation of killing a 17-year-old girl found dead in her car in downtown Los Angeles over the weekend.

    Police announced Monday morning that Charlie Samuel of Los Angeles is being held without bail at a downtown Los Angeles jail.

    Officials say the body of high school student Lily Burk was found in her black Volvo on Saturday and that she appeared to have head injuries.

    Police say Burk is believed to have been the victim of a botched robbery.

    No other details surrounding Samuel’s arrest have been released.”

  • Sheriff’s Department inmate information ( shows a Charlie Samuel, 50 year old male african american was arrested at 9pm last night by LAPD Central Division, Samuel is a parolee and is being held without bail.
    One thing that is strange is that those same records show Samuel was previously arrested by LAPD Metro on 7/24/09 at 5:30pm – Yes, that the day and time that Lily went missing and that was the time of death stated by the police. The 7/24 arrest had a low bail of $5,250, suggesting the Friday arrest was on charges unrelated to the murder.

  • Smart idea to check inmate information, Mark. The Friday arrest is perplexing. Based on what I suspect, they had Samuel at least by yesterday midday. But I don’t think he was booked for the murder until much, much later.

    We’ll soon find out the rest.

  • The information also shows a critical piece of information–he is on parole. They should have arrested him on the parole hod before.

  • As a former member in good standing of the L.A. freelance journo marketplace — and knowing how tight-knit that community is — I can only imagine from my back door perch in Southern Nevada how fierce the reverberations of this are being felt in the community.

    A few weeks ago I was speaking to a crime beat reporter for a local paper concerning the tragic, senseless shooting deaths of two young acquaintances of mine here in Las Vegas (the young men were 25 and 26 years old). I was, I told the veteran beat reporter, devastated to hear about the loss of both young men on June 8. “The problem as I see it,” she said, “is that we should all feel so deeply any such loss of human life to senseless violence in our community.”


    Thanks for staying on top of this sad, tragic story, Celeste.

  • As a resident of 25 years of Los Angeles; I cannot believe that this kind of devilish acts exist. This is so difficult to even think that someone that lives, breathes and can even think of committing such an act of violence. What a tragic loss this is. Who knows what this poor little girl could of done in her lifetime. I feel so badly for her parents, friends, and family. I am a very passionate, loving and caring individual but I have no compassion for people who commit these sense-less horrific acts of violence. Good ol’ Charlie Samuel your just lucky I wasn’t around to have a piece of you! Have fun and rotttt in jail!

  • There are no winners in this sad and pointless waste of a beautiful young life who left this world in a truly unimaginable way. Just thinking of what Lily’s last hour in our world was like will not leave me. It’s opened up an old wound.

    19 years ago I lost my father in a home invasion robbery. His killers were a pair of drug addicts who had been in and out of the ‘system’ all their lives. To this day I wonder what if I had been at home that day? What if I had called my dad and said, let’s have dinner together. What if we had a better burglar alarm. What if, what if, what if. The questions will never leave me, just as they won’t leave Lily’s parents.

    As much as I condemn my father’s killers in the same way as I condemn Lily’s killer, I take no solace from their life sentences. It’s too late. It doesn’t bring my dad back, and it doesn’t bring Lily back.

    Over the years I have come to realize that repeatedly locking these institutionalized sociopaths before they ‘up the ante’ in their criminality, does not achieve anything, other than guaranteeing someone’s personal tragedy. Sooner or later they do get out. And when they get out, they are far worse than when they went in.

    Our society can no more afford to lock them up for ever (like 3-Strikes does) than it can afford any meaningful rehabilitation. The ‘drug program’ that Lily’s killer left only hours before he kidnapped and killed Lily did nothing except, perhaps, save the prison system the cost of 6 month parole violation incarceration, which (you may be surprised to hear) is actually only a 3 month imprisonment as parole violators get 50% conduct credits (“good time”) on their sentence.

    The Governator was poised to release 27,000 “low risk, non-violent” prisoners to balance the budget. Each of of those 27,000 were poised to receive precisely the same level of post-release service and supervision as Charlie Samuel received – next to nothing.

    Now, please do not take what I just said to mean that each of those 27,000 are going to spiral as far downwards as Samuel. The vast majority wont. The vast majority, 66%, will re-offend within 3 months of release, based on current statistics, because if there isn’t enough money to keep them in prison, there is even less money to supervise them on release.

    So please tell me the answer? If the 27,000 don’t get early release to balance the budget, they will nevertheless get out eventually, and when they do, the problem of what they are destined to do will still be there.

  • Does anyone know if there is going to be a vigil at Lily Burk’s High School in North Hollywood? I am sure that there are alot of people in the area that would like to show their support.

  • I cannot stop thinking about Lily and the deep sadness this tragic event brings. I was carjacked after just turning 22, and I had no emergency training, but working as a cocktail waitress I knew to look around my car late at night. Even being aware to this extent, a male predator had followed me without me knowing it, and popped out of the darkness and jumped into my car after I’d parked. I had a gut feeling the man was going to kill me. Turns out he had a record of violence, and was on drugs. After trying to ask him what he wanted, he just said “drive or I’ll hurt you” so I drove, and took the first red light as a chance to escape. He grabbed me and we fought while he took over driving, but I was able to attract several cars who followed me by screaming and pulling out all and any of the hysterics inside of me. This was before cell phones. One car following me flagged a taxi, and told him to call the police. I didn’t see any weapon, but witnesses said they saw him grab something he’d put in to my back seat when he later tried to flee. I sustained numerous injuries from the struggle, but none serious, and got away from the guy through my own wits and nerves within probably the longest and most terrifying ten minutes of my life. I keep wondering why Lily’s mother sent her alone to that awful neighborhood, and why she did not have some type of training to know what to do in such a circumstance. Also wonder why her parents were not alarmed when she called making such an atypical request, why she didn’t have an “alarm” code word for them to know she was in trouble, why none of the cameras at the ATMs she visited were set up to assist her. I blame no one, but cannot help but run it over in my mind, wanting Lily to have survived this ordeal somehow. My deepest condolences to her family & community.

  • Celeste, I am new to this topic, but your support for the parents, friends and family of this young woman are very important. I represented the family of a young woman, Cara Knott, who was murdered by a CHP officer (in 1986). The death of a child, particularly the murder of a child, is an abomination. It is unnatural for a parent to bury a child.

    In that case, one thing we learned was how the ripples of her life and her death touched so many people, and how many people felt the loss. Thank you for focusing on her story.

Leave a Comment