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Honoring Samantha Burns’ legacy 20 years later

A community is dedicated to carrying on her legacy nearly 20 years after the Marshall student's disappearance.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 11:03 PM EDT
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WEST HAMLIN, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Every spring since 2005, a softball tournament is held in West Hamlin on a field named in Samantha Burns’ honor.

Courtney Scarberry graduated from Guyan Valley High School with Burns in 2001 and was her softball teammate.

“Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday,” she said of her friend’s disappearance. “Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever.”

Burns was 19 when she was last seen in November of 2002.

Brandon Basham and Chad Fulks are on death row in Indiana for her murder, but her body has never been found.

Scarberry says it’s important to continue showing Burns’ family how much she meant to the community.

“We like to do this for her family to let everybody see what kind of person she was, what a great leader she was, and how much we all love and miss her,” Scarberry said.

When the tournament was created in 2005, it was a high school softball tournament, and it became a middle school tournament after consolidation and the creation of Lincoln County High School.

The middle schoolers now playing weren’t born yet when Burns went missing, but they know her name well.

“We tell them little things about her,” Scarberry said. “We like to tell them how she hustled. If she got on base, she was going to score.”

“I’m just grateful, thankful, and appreciative for keeping Samantha’s name alive,” Tammy Adkins, Burns’ aunt, said.

Adkins says two decades later, they’re still hopeful they’ll get the answer that’s eluded them all these years.

“We haven’t found her body, so she’s still out there somewhere,” she said. “Those two gentlemen are still alive and still on death row. As long as they’re alive, we’ll always have hope one of them will come forward, or anybody will come forward that knows anything about her disappearance and where she may be.”

Following a game between Guyan Valley and Duval Monday night, girls from those teams, along with players from Wayne Middle, stood on the field and released balloons, and Burns’ grandfather said a prayer.

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