Corrina Burns, 30, took her own life in April 2020
A man whose little sister fled domestic violence before taking her own life has vowed to raise her four children as his own.
The last time Sam Burns spoke to Corrina was in March 2020, when he promised to see her ‘as soon as possible’ after Covid’s border closures ruined their plans to reunite at Easter.
Days later, 12-year-old Zeke and 7-year-old Tyra found their mother dead at home when she failed to pick them up from school.
“Zeke took his sister’s hand and they both ran out of the house screaming, and they kept screaming in the front yard,” Mr. Burns told Daily Mail Australia.
“Neighbors came to see what was going on, and then the police found Corrina.”
Struck by heartbreak, the then 28-year-old traveled from his home in western Victoria to Corrina’s final resting place in South Australia – where she went to escape the abusive father of her children.
Pictured: Corrina with her brother Sam Burns and her four children when they were younger, pictured backwards: Zeke, Tyra, Jada and Andre
Pictured: Corrina’s four children after their mother’s death, left to right: twins Andre and Jada, four years old, Tyra, seven years old, and Zeke, thirteen
When Zeke asked his uncle if he and his siblings would move to an orphanage, Mr. Burns said he knew he and his 26-year-old partner Maddison, who had no children of their own, would be raising their nieces and nephews.
‘There were times when we didn’t know if we could do it, or take care of all four – it was difficult because it changes your life plans, but looking back I’m so glad we did and I wouldn’t have it any other way , ‘he said.
The 30-year-old’s suicide came after more than a decade of alleged emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, whom she met at the age of 15 as part of a penpals program.
Corrina’s father also committed suicide in his cell when she was 11. She and Mr. Burns do not have the same biological father.
In the picture: Sam Burns with his new Zeke, neat Tyra and their mother Corrina. Mr. Burns and Corrina were “very close” even though they had different fathers
Sam Burns said his sister (pictured with her kids) would have done anything to protect her kids
Sam Burns (left) said that Corrina had been with her ex since they were teenagers, and recalls that the police were involved in their relationship from the early stages
She wrote heartfelt letters to her much older friend, which he would read from the privacy of his prison cell after being incarcerated for various crimes.
“He’s got a long sentence: burglary, burglary, aggravated assault,” Mr. Burns said.
Despite allegedly “ holding her hostage ” for a time and not allowing her to see her family, the young mother forgave him several times for continued alleged abuse.
But the situation came to a head in 2018 when they went shopping and came home to find strangulation marks on Zeke’s neck.
“Corrina didn’t know what happened to the kids and their dad while she was gone, and the day she found out she threw him out,” Mr. Burns said.
Corrina fled her home in Ballarat, Victoria, to South Australia to prevent her ex-husband from finding her
Sam Burns and his partner Maddison (pictured together) have vowed to raise the kids as their own
The father attempted to drive across the border into South Australia and Victoria, was arrested by the police and ended up in prison for ‘a few months’ for injuring his son.
According to Mr. Burns, he allegedly ‘violated the contactless orders against him almost immediately when he got out’.
“He reached out through other social media accounts and the abuse was relentless,” he said.
Terrified for the safety of her children, Corrina – who had already left her family in Victoria to escape his clutches – managed to convince her ex-partner that she had taken her family somewhere he couldn’t in Brisbane find.
It worked, until a friend posted a photo of the kids in their South Australian school uniforms to Facebook early last year and realized they were exactly where he’d left them.
Pictured: Corrina as a baby with her mother and father. Her father was in prison when he committed suicide. Corrina was 11
Pictured: Corrina as a child. She and her ex-husband started seeing each other while he was in prison
She was dead on April 1.
“It was April Fools,” said her brother.
“And she had a sense of humor – I’m still waiting for her to come out and say it was all a big joke.”
Mr. Burns said it’s hard to know what the tipping point was, but he believes the threat of her ex coming looking for them was too great.
In retrospect, the family can recall moments when Corrina would suggest that she knew something was going to happen to her.
“The last time we spoke, I told her my partner and I were worried we wouldn’t be able to get a home loan if Covid started to become a real problem,” he said.
Pictured: Zeke, Andre, Jada and Tyra. The children now live full-time with their uncle
The children have now spent their first Christmas without their mother. Pictured: The last Christmas photo they took together
“I had to reassure her that we would settle in, and I think that moment in her mind was enough to know that the kids would always have a safe place.”
Before she died, Corrina was actively involved in a domestic violence support group for women in her local community and studied a TAFE course to help other women in vulnerable situations.
When Mr. Burns and Maddison decided to take full custody of all four children, Zeke looked at his uncle and said, “Mommy always said if anything ever happened, you’d take care of us.”
While the siblings have five other siblings, Mr. Burns said they are all much younger and want to help, but are unable to raise four children full-time.
Divorced by state lines due to coronavirus, family failed to hold proper funeral and goodbye to Corrina
Due to the coronavirus separated by state lines, the family was unable to hold a proper funeral and farewell to Corrina.
To raise money to return Corrina’s body to Victoria, raise the children, and support four-year-old Andre, who has developmental delays, the family has a GoFundMe campaign.
“We understand that the current climate is extremely difficult for everyone, but even the smallest donations will help,” the page read.
Nearly a year after their mother’s tragic death, the children still fear their father will find them.
“They’ve started sharing bits and pieces about their experiences – we’re not discouraging it because it’s part of their process, and I think it means they feel safe,” he said.
“We still talk about their mom every day – she loved them so much and she would have done anything to keep them safe.”
For now, Mr. Burns (pictured with Corrina and the kids) said the kids are trying to get on with their lives
For now, Mr. Burns said the kids are trying to get on with their lives.
They’ve shared their first Christmas together without Corrina, Zeke has just graduated from primary school and turned into a teenager, and the anniversary of her death is upon us.
Amid the flood of high emotions, the children’s father threatens to take over full custody.
“When Corrina died, they did the orders without contact,” Mr. Burns said.
According to the legal system, he still has rights regardless of the whole situation. He came into contact a lot, but lately he has been quite quiet. ‘
He added, “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
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