Founding member of NAMBLA murdered by man he befriended

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Robert Burdick, a 78-year-old retired teacher, was brutally murdered in his New York apartment July 24. A drifter named Edward Joseph Patterson, 37, has admitted committing the crime. Burdick's body was found, stabbed at least ten times in the chest, that afternoon following phone calls by Patterson to reporters in Philadelphia and Baltimore, in which he described the crime. He was arrested that evening in Baltimore.

Burdick was present at the founding of NAMBLA in Boston's community Church in December 1978 and remained a supporter of the group to the end. He was also ective over the years in numerous other gay groups, among them the Gay Teachers Association, Senior Action in the Gay Academic Union.

His last appearance at a NAMBLA function was on November 9, 1985, as a panelist on the topic of children's rights and youth autonomy at NAMBLA's ninth conference in New York City. As he did whenever he spoke about man/boy love, Burdick stressed the importance of selfless love, not sex, in relationships between older and younger men.

Burdick died because he was a gentle, kind, and generous man. He had met Patterson through his voluminous correspondence with prisoners, and had allowed him to stay with him after Patterson's release in early July from Ray Book, N.Y., Federal prison, where he had served time for a 1982 threat to kill President Ronald Reagan.

Patterson, who has a record of 50 arrests and is listed in police records under some 23 aliases, is apparently a deranged antihomosexual psychopath and has reportedly threatened to kill all American presidents from Richard Nixon on. He told reporters after killing Burdick that he planned to kill eight members of his own family in Camden, New Jersey, "in a more terrible and violent way." He asserted that someone in his family had "molested" him when he was nine years old, and sought to justify his murder of Burdick by alleging that Burdick had had sex with children. What is more likely is that he murdered Burdick because of Burdick's involvement with NAMBLA and his support of man/boy love. Burdick had never been arrested or charged with any crime of any kind. He was a committed fighter for sexual freedom and gay liberation who will be missed not only by his comrades in NAMBLA, but by the entire gay movement.

source: Article 'Founding member of NAMBLA Murdered by Man He Befriended - Statement by the Steering Committee of NAMBLA'; NAMBLA Bulletin, vol. 7, n. 7; September 1986