Brazos County Detention Officer and Inmate Charged with Tampering with Evidence

By: Brazos County Sheriff's Department and KBTX Staff Email
By: Brazos County Sheriff's Department and KBTX Staff Email

A Brazos County Detention Officer has been arrested, accused of lying to investigators to help out an inmate.

Joan Lorraine Burns, 56, is charged with tampering with evidence. The inmate she's accused of helping, Willie Griffin Junior, faces the same charges.

Griffin has been in jail since March 8th, charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Burns reportedly told investigators she was on the phone with Griffin the night of the alleged kidnapping and heard him tell the victim to "put the gun down." She also questioned whether the victim was actually telling the truth.

However, Burns' story didn't check out. Investigators say Griffin called Burn's cell phone from jail telling her to make up the story.

According to investigators, Burns later admitted that she had lied to help out a friend. She also reportedly admitted to having a romantic relationship with Griffin before he was arrested.

Burns has been a detention officer for the Brazos County jail since 2005.

She has been placed on paid suspension.

Brazos County Sheriff's Office Press Release:

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 at 6:00 pm Joan Lorraine Burns, a Brazos County Detention Officer, was arrested by Sheriff’s Investigators and charged with Tampering with Evidence, a 3rd Felony. Also charged with Tampering with Evidence was Willie Griffin Jr., who has been in the custody of the Brazos County Jail since he was arrested on March 8th, 2012 for Aggravated Kidnapping and two counts of Aggravated Assault.

On Monday, March 12th, 2012 a Brazos County Sheriff's Investigator received a call from Detention Officer Burns who stated that she wanted to meet to discuss the investigation that the Sheriff's Office was involved in concerning Willie Griffin Jr.'s arrest for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. Burns met with the Investigator to say that she had known Griffin for approximately 5 years, having met him through her husband who is now deceased. Burns provided a written statement regarding the charges that had recently been filed on Willie Green Jr. giving details that she had been on her cell phone with Griffin on the night that he supposedly kidnapped the victim and could hear Griffin tell the victim "to put down the gun". Burns also made statements questioning the victim's veracity. Burns stated that she had exchanged text messages with the victim and gave Investigators permission to extract her text messages from her phone.

On Tuesday, March 13th Sheriff's Investigators reviewed the text messages and also reviewed calls recorded on the Detention Center phone system that were made by Griffin to Burn's cell phone during the certain times between March 9th thru 12th. In one of these calls Griffin is heard instructing Burns to go to the investigators and tell them she was on the phone with Griffin at the time the alleged kidnapping took place.

The investigation conducted by Sheriff’s Investigators substantiated that Detention Officer Burns had not told the truth in her sworn statement. When confronted with these facts in later interviews with Investigators, Burns admitted that she did not tell the truth in her sworn statement about being on the phone with Griffin and that she was "helping a friend out". She also admitted that she has had an intimate relationship outside of the jail with Griffin since October, 2011. There is no evidence that Burns had direct contact with Griffin while he was incarcerated. The fact that Burns falsified a statement in an investigation and that Griffin had instructed her do so constitute tampering with evidence and does meet the elements of a criminal violation.

Warrants were issued for both Burns & Griffin. Burns turned herself in to Investigators for arrest and was booked into the Brazos County Jail and Griffin was served with the additional charges in his jail cell. Bond was set by the Judge at $15,000 for Burns and $75,000 for Griffin. NOTE: Probable Cause Statements will not be on the website until next date.

56 year old Joan Burns has been a Detention Officer for the Brazos County Jail since January, 2005. Burns current assignment is Visitation Officer at the Brazos County Detention Center. Detention Officer Burns has been placed on immediate suspension with pay pending the completion of the internal investigation.

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