ADAMS — Debbie Davine, of Adams, was just a year old when her aunt, 18-year-old Lynn Burdick, disappeared from the family’s shop on the Mohawk Trail in the town of Florida. She grew up marking anniversaries of the night, 39 years ago, that Burdick went missing.
With the 40th anniversary looming, Davine decided to mount a new effort to solve the mystery of her aunt’s disappearance.
“My grandpa and grandma passed, and they didn’t know what happened,” Davine said. “Somebody out there knows something. Maybe they’ll decide, ‘It’s time to say something.’”
To encourage that, Davine has raised nearly $1,500 online to cover the cost of placing messages on billboards in Berkshire County.
It was the night of April 17, 1982, that Burdick disappeared from her job tending the cash register at the family’s Barefoot Peddler shop on a quiet stretch of Route 2. She is remembered every year, when the Lynn Burdick Memorial Award is presented at McCann Technical School in North Adams, where she was a senior.
And her life is recalled at those family gatherings — which have included candlelight vigils and time capsules. Davine’s parents and an aunt live in the Florida house where Burdick grew up, near the former store.
This month, a treasured family photo of Burdick will go up on Curran Highway in North Adams, asking anyone with information about what became of Burdick to contact the state police. Another billboard is planned for Pittsfield.
“That gets the message out there,” Davine said.
Over time, police have pursued various theories, and leads, after the first frantic search ended, nearly four decades ago. Burdick disappeared the year Michael Jackson released his “Thriller” album, Great Britain defeated Argentina in the Falklands war and Claus von Bülow was found guilty of the attempted murder of his wife.
The Burdick missing person’s case has been tracked by websites, including The Charley Project, and been recalled in news articles and commentaries in The Eagle, the former North Adams Transcript and other outlets, including Reddit.
The family itself nurtures Burdick’s memory in a Facebook page called Finding Lynn Burdick.
Davine said she has been in touch with the state police detective now in charge of the Burdick case.
“They periodically do get new information,” Davine said.
One donor to the GoFundMe campaign posted that she wants the Burdick family to know what became of their loved one.
“It has been too long! Lynn lives on in the hearts and minds of all that knew her and even those that didn’t,” wrote Deborah Baker. “I’m hoping this billboard will trigger some new information to solve this long overdue mystery.”
Davine said her family needs that sense of closing.
“There may be someone that knows something and will come forward with information,” she said in the campaign’s appeal. As of Tuesday evening, 34 people had given $1,375.
The donations and messages mean a lot to Davine.
“We were all overwhelmed by the support,” she said, speaking of her parents and aunt. “It’s amazing to know how much people cared about Lynn.”