Husband accused of killing wife, burning her remains, appears in court

Burns sentencing postponed
Carla Burns was last seen in Saline County on Tuesday, March 8 at around 3:30 p.m. (Source: Marion PD)
Carla Burns was last seen in Saline County on Tuesday, March 8 at around 3:30 p.m. (Source: Marion PD)

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The Harrisburg doctor accused of shooting and killing his estranged wife, then burning her remains to conceal the crime is scheduled to go to trial before a jury in 2018.

Brian Burns is charged with two counts of first degree murder and one count of concealing a homicide.

Carla Burns was reported missing to authorities on March 10. 2016.

Family members who reported the missing 49-year-old woman told police they hadn't been able to get in touch with her for two days.

After carrying out several search warrants, Saline County authorities arrested her husband, Dr. Brian Burns, nearly a week later on March 16.

He was being held in the Saline County Jail on $1 million bond.

Court documents show Burns is accused of shooting his wife, Carla, then burning her body and spreading her ashes to hide her death.

The two had been married since 2009, but were estranged, and according to court documents, Burns and his wife Carla had been going through a long and rocky divorce.

Court documents show Carla Mae Burns advanced divorce proceedings in 2014 out of fear that disagreements with then-husband 56-year-old Dr. Brian Burns of Harrisburg would turn physical.

Family members of Carla who chose to remain anonymous said most of Carla's family still resides in Texas, where documents confirm she is from.

Carla explained during the divorce proceedings that she traveled to Illinois to follow her husband after the marriage was finalized, moving first to Hamilton County, then settling near Harrisburg.

Administrators at Harrisburg Medical Center explained Brian Burns was employed by Morthland College as a hospitalist, working in several area hospitals such as Harrisburg Medical, and Marshall Browning Hospital in DuQuoin.

Carla originally filed for divorce on Dec 4, 2014 alleging "irreconcilable differences" occurred within the marriage, causing an "irretrievable breakdown" of the relationship.

An affidavit filed by Dr. Burns' attorneys claimed the marriage was historically troubled, citing what Dr. Burns claimed was "adultery" committed on the part of Carla.

Carla explained in her original divorce petition that every possible effort at reconciliation had been exhausted, which was a contributing factor to her choice to pursue divorce.

Carla filed several petitions on Dec. 4, 2014, an excerpt from one of which is found below.

"The respondent [Brian Burns] does not want divorce and since the Petitioner [Carla Burns] will not agree to work things out the verbal abuse continues to escalate and the petitioner  is in fear of the respondent becoming physical."

After filing the paperwork, court documents show Carla packed up most of her belongings and left the Harrisburg home to two shared, then filed a restraining order to prevent her husband from taking tens of thousands of dollars out of the pair's bank account.

On August 28, 2015, Carla claimed her estranged husband forged her signature to close the couples' formerly shared bank account and attempted to dispose of more than $60,000 it contained.

As part of the original divorce petition, Carla vowed to seek compensation from Burns to pay for living expenses following the divorce, and a split of their martial belongings.

Most of the disagreements on paper between the two thereafter seemed to be about how the money would be split up following the divorce, along with the assets.

In one instance, Brian's attorneys complained Carla took two handguns registered to Mr. Burns when she left.

Some of the final documents filed in connection with the divorce specify a hearing scheduled for April 21, 2016, which was set on March 10, 2016.

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