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Almost 4 years later, slain woman’s boyfriend arrested

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This story contains mention of domestic violence. Abuse can be reported by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

INDIANAPOLIS — Tricia Platt and her family have waited nearly four years.

On Oct. 9, 2020, her niece, Brittany Burns, was found unresponsive in a home on the southeast side of Indianapolis. She did not survive.

People around her blamed alcohol withdrawal. Five months later, a ruling announced by the Marion County Coroner’s Office provided a much graver account: Burns’ death was a homicide from asphyxia.

The grief was “unbelievable,” Platt described. From then, the yearslong, strenuous effort to make sure her niece’s killer would be put behind bars began. Calls to Indianapolis’ police department, prosecutors and potential witnesses consumed Platt’s life.

On Thursday, she learned Indianapolis police made an arrest.

Rakeem Thompson, Burns’ boyfriend, was jailed on a preliminary murder charge in her death.

“Joyful,” Platt said about her feelings after the arrest. “(I’m) just so relieved.”

According to new details in an arrest affidavit, Thompson called 911 the night Burns was found and told dispatchers he believed the 31-year-old “passed away” from alcohol withdrawal on the sofa in their home.

Medics took Burns to a hospital, where she died 10 days later. In March 2021, the coroner’s office determined she was killed.

Witnesses: An ‘amicable’ relationship turned violent

Early in the investigation, a detective learned Thompson, 32, asked his property managers if he could break his lease early while Burns remained in the hospital. When asked why, he responded he wanted to move closer to his job on the west side and Burns was moving back to Chicago. The manager agreed to break the lease, the affidavit stated.

A detective in the report said they attempted to interview Thompson from his new home. When they knocked on the door and asked him to come downtown to give a statement, he replied he “would like to get an attorney.”

Residents near the couple’s home in the 2500 block of English Avenue estimated the couple had lived together for about a year. Their relationship seemed “amicable at first,” one witness reported.

“As time went along, the boyfriend became disrespectful,” a witness told police.

Neighbors told police they often heard the pair arguing and, because their window blinds were open, they saw Burns get pushed to the ground several times.

In December 2021, one neighbor recalled hearing the couple arguing the day Burns was found unresponsive. The witness told police that several seconds into the fight, they heard a thud that shook their residence. They said police and ambulances showed up about 10 minutes later and Burns was taken to a hospital. She never came back, they said.

Court records show a warrant for Thompson’s arrest was approved this week. He’s scheduled to first appear in court May 28.

Closure to a case

Platt said an arrest in her niece’s case brought her to tears multiple times.

“I’m just so relieved,” she said. “Justice helps closure.”

When Burns was born, Platt said she was the first person to hold her. She’s now helping Burns again through visits with her teen son and daughter.

Contact reporter Sarah Nelson at sarah.nelson@indystar.com

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Four years after Brittany Burns was killed, her boyfriend is jailed

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