BOSTON (CBS) – Cindi Ciani and Bill Burgess are heartbroken. Their daughter, they say, was a victim of domestic violence. No longer married to each other, the grieving parents are united in raising awareness for victims. They believe this type of abuse can happen to anyone and they are starting a foundation in their daughter’s name to help others.
Ciani’s dining room table is a shrine to 28-year-old Maddilyn Burgess, covered with photos, baby clothes, trophies, school report cards and her funeral flowers. Bill Burgess remembered her smile would light up a room. The parents were devastated to learn Maddilyn was brutally murdered earlier this month.
“I knew something was wrong as soon as the officers asked me my name and came into the house,” Cindi recalled. “I fell to the floor and the only thing I could say was ‘no, no, no my baby girl,’” she said.
Maddilyn’s battered body was found in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car on August 9th. Maine State Police say Gyrth Rutan shot himself after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. Bill recalled seeing the news reports on television. “I remember thinking how horrible for that family. An hour after that, Cindi called me and said it was Maddilyn that was in that car,” he said.
The Worcester County District Attorney is investigating the murder and found evidence of a crime scene at the couple’s Sturbridge home.
Cindi told WBZ-TV Gyrth isolated her daughter and that Maddilyn lost contact with most of her very close friends. The grieving mother talked about how controlling he was and that he had gone through Maddilyn’s phone and wanted to know who she was talking to.
According to Maddilyn’s parents, Gyrth was also very abusive, both verbally and physically. In June, Maddilyn took out an emergency restraining order against him and moved out. It wasn’t long after that when Bill heard they were communicating again and he told Maddilyn he was against the idea of her seeing him again.
But, it wasn’t long before her folks say Gyrth convinced Maddilyn to move back into his apartment. Despite his concerns, Bill never thought anything like this could happen.
Maddilyn did struggle with substance abuse, but her parents insist those issues had nothing to do with the murder. They believe Maddilyn was the victim of domestic violence and if this could happen to their daughter, a straight-A student, prolific writer, who loved music and only saw the good in people, it could happen to anyone.
Maddilyn’s parents now want to honor their daughter by helping other victims of domestic violence get the help they need. They are raising money and partnering with the YWCA of Central Massachusetts Daybreak program to fund what they hope will be named “Maddy’s House.”
Cindi and Bill have learned there are not enough resources for women who find themselves in unsafe relationships and that things could have turned out differently for Maddilyn if she had a local place to get help.
Currently there are only 184 state funded emergency shelter rooms for women in Massachusetts. Maddilyn’s family has started a GoFundMe to raise money to help victims in abusive situations.
Domestic Violence Resources: