LAKE LUZERNE --- The street where a Lake Luzerne woman was killed on Christmas eve was subdued Christmas morning as authorities had mostly cleared the scene.

One Warren County sheriff’s deputy was stationed in front of the Lake Avenue building where the fatal stabbing took place, sitting in a squad car next to a line of police tape that blocked the entrance to the crime scene.

A neighbor of the woman who died in the attack — Patricia A. Burns, 42 — said she lived there with her two teenage daughters. Burns’ estranged husband has been charged with second degree murder in the attack.

The neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he knew the victim and her daughters, and although he had never met the estranged husband, said he had heard of the husband making threats in the past.

Police said two young women also were hurt during the attack, but revealed the name of only one — Megan Jenkins, 22, of Lake Luzerne. Police did not reveal her relationship to the victim.

The suspect, identified as Clifford R. Burns, 46, of Troy-Schenectady Road, Niskayuna, was arrested after a car chase that ended in Queensbury. He was charged late Tuesday with second-degree murder.

Patricia Burns was pronounced dead at Glens Falls Hospital, while the two other victims were being treated at the hospital late Tuesday.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York said one had serious wounds that were not believed to be life-threatening, while the other’s injuries were considered less serious.

Jenkins was admitted to the hospital, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Clifford Burns entered his wife’s second-floor apartment shortly after 5 p.m. and attacked her with a knife, stabbing her multiple times, police reported.

Jenkins was stabbed in the arms when she tried to intervene, police said.

Authorities said the case is still under investigation, and additional charges are anticipated.

Family problems

The apartment sits over The Hardware Store at the corner of Lake Avenue and Davern Drive.

Residents of a second apartment above The Hardware Store were not allowed back into their apartment until about 4 a.m. Wednesday, because a State Police forensic identification team was working at the site.

A neighbor who knew the family, but had never met Clifford, said Patricia lived there with three daughters — two of them in their teens and one older.

York said it was unclear what led to the attack, but there had been a history of domestic problems and an ongoing Family Court battle between the Burnses. He said he could not elaborate late Tuesday.

“There have been Family Court problems for years. It appears it was intensifying,” he said.

York said Patricia Burns suffered multiple stab wounds, but further details of what happened in the apartment — where on Tuesday night Christmas lights shined through the windows as sheriff’s officers guarded the scene — were not immediately released.

A neighbor said screams could be heard from outside the building when the attack occurred, and at least one neighbor rushed into the home at the tail end of the attack.

Clifford Burns fled, and witnesses gave police a description of his vehicle, York said.

York said sheriff’s patrols and state troopers spotted the vehicle and chased it to the county Municipal Center, where Burns drove to the Sheriff’s Office, tossing items out the window as he entered the parking lot, then stopping in the agency’s side parking lot.

“He basically came here. He knew he was in trouble,” York said.

Quiet disturbed

The knife used in the stabbings had not been recovered as of late Tuesday, the sheriff said.

On Tuesday night, York said Clifford Burns “has been rambling for a couple of hours” in police custody, but the sheriff said he could not comment on what was said.

Burns was charged with one county of second degree murder, arraigned in Warren County Supreme Court and sent to Warren County Jail without bail.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan referred comment to York.

Davern Drive was closed Tuesday night to through traffic, but was reopened Wednesday morning.

Another neighbor who asked not to be named said she did not know the Burnses but had seen one of the girls who lived there riding her bike before. She said the block was generally quiet, with many elderly people living there. She said her family was visiting relatives Christmas Eve and returned that night with their four young children to heavy police activity.

“It definitely can put a damper on your spirits. It’s heartbreaking to think about what happened,” the neighbor said.

Neighbor Chris Gori said he moved to Lake Luzerne from the New York City area to get away from violence.

“My wife is flipping out. This is way too close to home,” he said.

Patricia Burns was a nurse’s assistant who had worked in hospice care, while Cliff Burns worked for a tree company. They moved to the Lake Luzerne area in 2008 or 2009, according to a friend.

The family dealt with tragedy on Dec. 27, 2010, when Patricia Burns’ 15-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Christalin Canavan, died in her sleep. She was a 10th-grader at Hadley-Luzerne Central School when she died.

Clifford Burns was arraigned early Wednesday by state Supreme Court Justice David Krogmann and sent to Warren County Jail without bail.

He is due back in Lake Luzerne Town Court on Jan. 8.

(20) comments


Better ban knifes now. The knife killed this person, it wasn't the person holding it...well at least that's NYS way of thinking...

Sled Head

How about we NOT turn this into a political thing, huh? Someone lost their life, children lost their mother; it's a little inappropriate to make a jab at gun laws, don't you think?


for is harsher consequences for domestic violence perpetrators and those who break orders of protection that should be the focus of debate and action. thinking of the girls who lost their mother.


Well said, Sled Head. My heart broke for this family when they lost there daughter 3 years ago. I can't imagine what the daughters are going through now.


Couldn't agree with you more. AMEN.


Really, what do gun laws have to do with this tragedy? If it is not the gun laws then it must be the President's fault, right? The bottom line is no matter what laws there are, there will always be tragedies that can't always be prevented nor explained. My heart goes out to the family. There lives are changed forever and Christmas will always haunt them.

someone in glens falls

Sled Head is right. Let's try to heal this family. Supportive words are what they need. I'm sure they could care less about anything else right now.


The wrong person died here. Remember this : a restraining order is only a piece of paper. Teach our daughters how to shoot.


This is so heartbreaking. I hope someone good in the family takes care of the girls. They will never be the same! M.r Burns will await his day in court! Hopefully he gets life with an everyday possibility of being stabbed!!


In times like this..... We need to say a prayer to the survivors of the victim- and re-instate the death penalty.


I agree with you KJO2009 ~ an eye for an eye. What gives him the right to take someones life?


peter1135 Yes we do need to bring back the death penalty and USE it . Maybe people would think twice before Killing someone . To many Bleeding Hearts in this Country so I guess we can just put up with people being Murdered and supporting their killers the rest of their lives . So sad for this Lady and her family .


*for convictions of second degree murder.


@SledHead Too bad. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. The president and the governor and the rest of the liberal elites didn't hesitate to politicize the tragic shootings at Newtown. Legislating against guns then makes as much sense as legislating against knives now. Rather than address the real issues such as this nation's abysmal approach to dealing with mental health issues, our so called leaders follow the clamoring hordes cry for SOMETHING to be done - even if it's wrong.


Everyone should be supportive of the woman's family. Indeed, showing compassion for all those who have been victimized is the right thing to do at this sad time. The court will sort out the legal issues, but it is very important to remember the victims too.


How sad for the family and those of the people that had to respond to this tragedy on Christmas Eve.


If using tragedies to advocate for weapons control is bad, sarcastically suggesting it is worse. But to take opinion19 and greyghost seriously, guns are used, consistently, in 66% or more of murders, knives in 12%. I'd risk a guess that there are more knives in private possession than guns. So you have fewer guns being used in far more murders than guns. So logically, which is the bigger problem, if one was going to pursue legislative solutions?

The Bleeb

100% of murders involved people with the intent to kill. That's the problem. "Legislative solutions" (read: control) have not worked in the war on drugs, as they are still easily obtained and used. The idea that police pointing guns at peaceful people and hauling them off to jail if they violate gun control laws - which is what enforcement of such laws boils down to - is somehow a good way to combat gun violence is the height of hypocrisy.


As a retort to QbyGardener, I am not sure where you came up with your statistics. I have checked both the FBI website, and that of the New York State Police, and I find no such information. I suggest you consult some other sources than the liberal left news to support your obvious liberal views. Knives are by far the weapon of choice in deadly attacks, and any law enforcement officer will readily tell you that he fears them more than any other weapon. Bulletproof vests do not stop them. That said, this is no place for this discussion. A mother died, and her daughters mourn the loss. God bless this family.


Not so fast QbyGardener. Even if we accept that your statistics are accurate, how many of those guns were unregistered/illegally possessed? The anti gun crowd is very quick to quote stats but are always reticent to discuss whether the gun was legally possessed. Show me stats differentiating between legally and illegally possessed guns and we'll see what the real issue is.
Let's just call a spade a spade shall we? It is the thugs and criminals who are committing the vast majority of gun crimes and NOT, with very few exceptions, the law abiding, responsible gun owners.

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