Tara Gillon was born July 27th, 1976. The 20 year old college sophomore who was studying at the University of Indiana student that was back in Middleborough, MA to visit her family during winter break from classes. Tara was home with her sister until 10:00 pm, when her sister left. I would like you to keep this in mind, since her parents returned home just around 11 pm. All of the following story happened when Tara was home alone for less than one hour. If that doesn’t scare you after reading this, nothing will.
On New Year’s Eve 1996 , 18 year old Ryan Burgess had been drinking and taking Tylenol with codeine. He had left a party early after having an argument. His girlfriend reportedly left the party with him around 9 pm and walked with him for a little while, but turned back to the Ash Street party as it was cold outside.
Around 10 p.m., Burgess saw a car leaving the house on Old Center Street – a place that Burgess likely saw as a target due to the way the home is set off the road, with woods to the side and rear of the one family home. He likely intended to rob the home, since Mr. Burgess, despite his young age, had a long criminal history including breaking and entering charges and juvenile delinquency. Reportedly, Burgess had over 20 convictions by 15 years old.
After making his way around the home, Burgess broke into the back porch where he was reportedly confronted by the victim. The reports indicate the victim, Tara asked him what he was doing on the back porch. He said he was a friend of her sister, she screamed and he grabbed her by the neck and choked her extensively. He then left her on the couch while she struggled to breathe and went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, returning to the victim. He then proceeded to stab her. Her autopsy indicated that this was a brutal attack. She was stabbed approximately 21 times, 11 of these wounds were said to be deep enough to be fatal. Extensive defensive wounds on her arms showed Tara tried hard to fight. In addition to the stab wounds, she suffered a fractured hyoid bone and hemorrhaging in her voice box, larynx and neck. She also had a bite mark on one of her nipples.
This sick jerk then dragged her out of sight of the windows, removed clothing from her bottom-half and raped her. There is no way to know whether she had already passed away or was dying while this assault took place. I have a hard time with this, what the hell was wrong with this guy?
He then smoked a cigarette and ransacked the upstairs but did not appear to actually take anything. Reports indicate that drawers were just sort of pulled out and disheveled. Burgess stated he left shortly after 11 pm when he heard a car pull into the driveway. This lines up with reports from Tara’s father and Stepmother, who were coming home from a New Year’s Eve Dinner. They believe they heard someone exit as they arrived. They found Tara naked from the waist down with extensive, gaping wounds. It was too late to save her, she was already gone
No stolen items were present when the police caught up with him shortly after the murder, and they caught him pretty fast since they were able to follow his initial track right back to the party.Police questioned the people at the Ash Street party. Soon after, they arrived at the Elm Street home that Burgess was staying at with friends. He no longer lived with his parents.
At that time the police questioned Burgess, He consented to a search of his room. in that search, they found visible bloodstains on Mr. Burgess’ pants from the night before, a pair of sneakers that matched the footprints outside the crime scene, and Burgess himself had injuries from the Gillon resisting the attack, including scratches on his arms and lips. The blood on the pants was a DNA match to Tara’s when tested. Additionally, DNA from a cigarette butt found in the Gillon home was a match to Burgess.
Police have never found the murder weapon, believed to be a long, thin, steak knife that was removed from the Gillon kitchen. He confessed to his crimes and later tried to suppress his confession, based on a myriad of factors and evidence found in his possession when he was first questioned. His attempts were thankfully unsuccessful.
In 1998, Burgess was sentenced to 2 life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2001, the court rejected Burgess’ appeal and upheld the conviction.
Tara has been laid to rest in St Francis Old Cemetery in Taunton, MA.