Burke O’Brien (handout)
25-year-old Burke O’Brien was fatally shot on a Lower East Side stoop on a cold January night in 2003, just days after moving to New York City for a job as a foreign currency trader at Bank of America. No one was ever prosecuted for the murder, and now the cold case is getting a new look through a seven-part “multi-platform” series on ABC News’ Nightline, A Murder On Orchard Street.
O’Brien had been celebrating his new life in the city with friends and relatives, including his sister Raurie and good friend, Forest Bloede when the celebration stretched into the early morning of January 12, 2003. According to the NY Times:
In a statement to the police, Mr. Bloede, 24, said that after a night at clubs, the five had taken two cabs back to Orchard Street. He said he and Mr. O’Brien, in one cab, had arrived after the others about 3:50 a.m., but lacking money for the driver, they stopped at a Fleet Bank automated teller machine at Orchard and Grand.
They took out $20—the A.T.M. recorded the withdrawal at 3:53 a.m.—paid the cabby and walked to Mr. Bloede’s building half a block away, he said. As they neared the door, he said, two black men, one with a gun, accosted them. He said he gave them the change from the $20. But he said Mr. O’Brien, reacting to the encounter, took off his coat, tried to get the money back and was shot.
O’Brien was shot outside of his sister’s building, where he had been staying while looking for an apartment; the Daily News reports she ran out of the building when she heard Bloede’s screams and ended up performing CPR on her brother. O’Brien died at NYU Downtown Hospital.
Initially, police suspected Bloede, arresting him but later dropping charges. A witness’s testimony supported the mugger theory, but it took months for police to develop a sketch of the suspect because Bloede allegedly refused to speak to the police.
The case remains open, and ABC News producer Christina Kiely, who had covered the investigation at the time when the networks’ journalists shadowed the NYPD for the reality show, NYPD 24-7, revisited the murder with Kenny Silvia, the NYPD detective who was on the case. An ABC News press release teases, “While reviewing original case footage, Kiely stumbles upon a possible new lead that could change the course of the case completely. The series features nearly every player involved in the case – both then and now – including the detectives, the victim’s family and the people who were there in those fateful final moments.”
Kiely explained, “Our original show aired and Silvia left the 7th Precinct and eventually retired from the force after his 20 years of service. Then, in summer 2014, more than 10 years after I had been embedded with the NYPD, Silvia called me. He was still determined to solve this case.”
Five episodes are available now on ABC New’s website, as well as on ABC News apps and other streaming platforms, including Roku, Apple TV, Hulu and Xbox One. Kiely will also be narrate a podcast from ABC Radio, which will be available to download, subscribe or listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn and ABCNewsPodcasts.com.
“Taking a fresh look at a captivating case like this one allows us an opportunity to creatively showcase our rich archive in a new and dynamic way,” said Roxanna Sherwood, executive producer of the A Murder on Orchard Street. “My hope is that the story will engage the public to help unravel new details and clues that could mean the difference for a family waiting so long to see justice done.”