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How the L.A. Arsonist Was Caught

With the exception of some serial-killer investigations, I’ve never in my long career seen as much investigative weight thrown into a case.

by
Jack Dunphy

Bio

January 10, 2012 - 12:01 am
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The arson case is merely the latest in what appears to be a long criminal saga for the Burkharts, who came to the United States from Germany via Vancouver, British Columbia. After being arrested in Germany in 2007 for her allegedly bilked boob job, Dorothee Burkhart escaped from custody by climbing through a bathroom window at a hospital. (She had been taken to the hospital after complaining — apparently falsely — of heart trouble.) The Burkharts turned up and applied for refugee status in Canada, claiming to be the victims of neo-Nazis who had infiltrated the German government. As if to show that government bureaucracies are every bit as inefficient in our friendly northern neighbor as they are here, it took Canadian authorities two years to deny the claim.

And where does a pair of German grifters go after their tale of woe fails to impress even the Canadians? Los Angeles, of course. Give us your tired, your poor, your phony boob-job refugees — all are welcome here in the City of Angels, where the elder Burkhart apparently hung out an online shingle billing her ample self as an erotic masseuse, known less euphemistically as a prostitute.

If Harry Burkhart hadn’t elected to protest his mother’s arrest in such a literally incendiary fashion, he probably would have lived to a ripe old age right here in sunny Los Angeles, where a person’s immigration status is ignored at all levels of government. As it is, he’ll still probably live to a ripe old age, but he’ll be doing it in some California prison. And as for his mom, she remains in the federal lockup in downtown L.A., waiting to learn when she’ll be sent back to Germany to answer the charges about those surgically enhanced breasts of hers. It could only happen in Hollywood.

Look for the miniseries to air during the fall sweeps.

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Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California.
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