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‘Lavender Doe’ killer offers reason for guilty plea in Gregg County court

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 8:26 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas district attorney says two families are finally getting justice.

Joseph Burnette pleaded guilty to two murder charges and a sex offender charge in Longview Tuesday. He received three 50-year sentences, which he will serve concurrently.

The guilty plea of Joseph Burnette closed two murder investigations cases in Gregg County.

“It’s the only way I can describe it. Pure evil. There’s no rhyme or reason to why these murders took place other than Joseph Burnette is an evil person,” said Gregg County District Attorney Tom Watson.

Burnette himself offered his reasoning for the guilty plea.

“I want to do this, I want to get it over with. I want everybody to get their closure,” he said in court.

In October 2006, Gregg County sheriff’s deputies responded to an oil lease off Fritz Swanson road where a woman’s body was found. She was later to be known as ‘Lavender Doe’.

“Body had been burned and was unrecognizable,” Watson said.

In 2018 the DNA Doe Project confirmed her identity as 21-year-old Dana Lynn Dodd, of Jacksonville, Florida, but there were no clues as to who her killer was.

“Unfortunately, clues weren’t coming forward, and it kind of went cold,” the district attorney says.

But a gruesome discovery in 2018 off of Birdsong Street in Longview ultimately led to solving the Lavender Doe case. It was the body of Felisha Pearson, reported missing in July 2018.

An arrest warrant affidavit showed that Burnette and Pearson lived together, residing at the Contessa Inn in Longview.

Burnette gave a full confession into the strangling deaths of Felisha Pearson and Dana Dodd.

“What we strive to do, is do the best job we can to bring closure to the families so that they can receive some form of justice,” Watson says.

It’ll be 25 years before the 43-year-old Burnette is eligible for parole.

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