UPDATED STORY | Dalton woman's death not suspicious, authorities say

DALTON -- Police are investigating the discovery of a body believed to be that of a Dalton woman who was reported missing on Sunday.

Theresa Burke's mother reported her missing Sunday afternoon, according to Dalton Police records. Catherine Burke told police that her 23-year-old daughter had not been accounted for since approximately 3 a.m. Sunday.

On Monday around 9 a.m., Dalton Police were called to the vicinity of American Legion Benjamin Sullivan Post 155 at 258 North St. (Route 9), where they found a woman's body in a wooded area adjacent to the playground.

"We believe it to be Theresa Burke," Dalton Police Sergeant Christopher Furlong said Monday.

State police detectives with the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and the local medical examiner's office are now investigating the cause of death.

On Sunday, Theresa Burke was entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database as a missing person. That evening, posts with Theresa Burke's image began circulating on Facebook in an attempt to locate the young woman.

Furlong said officers conducted patrols around area parks and woods, and area police departments were instructed to be on the lookout for Burke. Furlong said some concerned citizens organized a search group in town.

About 10 a.m. Monday, Theresa Burke's Facebook page began filling up with condolences.

On Monday evening, Burke's mother, Catherine "Catie" Burke, posted the following note: "Shock cannot begin to describe my feeling right now. Some day this will really sink in. I just need to say thank you again to my family, friends & even the total strangers who have been with me through all of this. I have not kept up with all messages but will try to read them when I can. Please know I love you all."

According to the post on Facebook, Burke was last seen in Dalton on foot at about 3 a.m. Sunday. She was said to be "wearing gray yoga pants, black combat boots and possibly a gray hoodie."

The flier also stated that it was unlike Burke not to contact her mother.

Theresa Burke was a member of the Berkshire Band-Itz women's roller derby league. She went by the derby name "Phoenix Inferno" and had attended a benefit event for the league held Saturday night at Chameleons nightclub in Pittsfield. Burke and the team had been campaigning to find an indoor practice and event space to host bouts.

Her mother told officers that she had tried to contact Theresa's friends to figure here whereabouts, but with no luck, according to a police report. She said her daughter came home Saturday night and "was upset, could not sleep."

According to friends, family and other acquaintances, Theresa Burke was a lively, thoughtful, creative young woman.

"You were my life, my best friend & more than you could ever know," her mother posted on her daughter's Facebook page Monday night. It now serves as an online memorial page, with dozens of posts in tribute to Burke.

"She was a very talented person who loved theater," said Taconic High School music teacher Jessica Passetto, a former Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School teacher who knew and worked with Burke at the Adams school. Passetto helped Burke and Bryan Burgwardt start a for-youth-by-youth theater troupe called The Muses' Progeny, which held a few performances in Pittsfield in 2006 and 2007.

Burke herself had performed in several youth performances through programs of Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, and in "Romance, Soul & Rock ‘N' Roll" community musical productions in Pittsfield.

Friends say she was also a Boston Red Sox fan.

As a teenager, Burke was a member of the first ninth-grade class at BART, offered in 2004, according to Executive Director Julia Bowen.

"She started a school newspaper and was very involved in theater," Bowen said. "She was a very bright young woman. This is very sad news."

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239.
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink