Bladenboro man charged with first-degree murder

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County sheriff’s investigators solved a murder less than 24 hours after it occured, and have charged a Bladenboro man with first-degree murder.

According to Sheriff Jim McVicker, deputies were called to a residence on Hwy. 41 West on Tuesday night on a report of a missing woman.

“(Crystal Dionne) Cruz lived with her fiancée David Burney and Burney’s son Marquail,” McVicker said. “David Burney reported her missing at approximately 11:37 p.m. on Tuesday (and) told officers he came home from work that evening and thought she was in the bedroom asleep, but after a time he went to check on her he could not find her.”

Deputies spoke with David Burney, who reportedly said his son had left the home walking after he questioned him about Cruz’s disappearance.

When deputies searched the property, they located the lifeless body of Cruz in a vehicle in the backyard.

“During the course of the investigation it was revealed that Marquail Burney … stole a vehicle from a nearby business shortly after walking away from the home,” McVicker said. “Marquail Burney was located by investigators of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at a retail store parking lot in Lumberton Wednesday morning around 10:30 a.m. and the stolen vehicle was also recovered at the time of his arrest.”

Marquail Burney is currently in the Bladen County Jail under no bond

“We are still collecting evidence and our investigation is continuing,” McVicker stated. “We are coordinating our efforts with the District Attorney’s Office and I expect there will be additional charges forthcoming.”

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent