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Man suspected in stabbing death of girlfriend's 8-year-old son

UNION TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A man suspected in the stabbing death of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son late Monday night in Union Township, Lawrence County, has been arrested in Youngstown, Ohio, Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday morning.

The arrest of 43-year-old Keith Burley comes after New Castle police were called about 10:30 p.m. Monday to a home on High Street in Union Township, where a large police presence remained Tuesday morning. He was taken into custody in Ohio by U.S. marshals, police said.

What police say happened before boy's death

Police said Burley stabbed the boy following a domestic dispute that started in a car. The dispute involved Burley and his 36-year-old girlfriend, who was assaulted during an argument over cellphones, according to investigators.

Burley’s girlfriend was driving and pulled into a fire department’s parking lot to seek help, police said in a criminal complaint.

“They didn't pull into the parking lot much. She was running across the parking lot to us for help," Assistant New Castle fire Chief Mike Petrone said.

When she got out of the car, Burley drove away with his girlfriend’s two children and went to the home, where he fatally stabbed one of them, police said.

The other child, who is 7 years old, was not hurt, authorities said.

According to the complaint, a 15-year-old and another 8-year-old, were at the home and witnessed the stabbing. They ran for help and Burley fled soon after.

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Murder suspect's criminal past

Burley had just been released from prison in March after serving 20 years for murder.

In 1999 he pleaded guilty to 3rd degree murder and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for shooting a man during a robbery in New Castle.

While in prison, he was charged again for an incident inside the facility. This time the charges were aggravated assault and assault by a prisoner.

He also had previous firearms and reckless endangerment charges.

What we know about 8-year-old stabbing victim

Mark Mason, know to friends and family as Markie, might have only been 8 years old when he was killed, but his father says he was heroic until has last breath.

Markie and his 7-year-old brother had been with their mother and Burley for the night. When Burley allegedly kidnapped the boys and took them to a house in Union Township, Markie started to fight back.

The boys' father, Mark Mason, said Markie was yelling at his brother and the other children in the home to run away as he fought with Burley.

What happens next

Burley is set to appear at an extradition hearing Thursday morning in Youngstown, Ohio, where he was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.

Charges including criminal homicide, aggravated assault and kidnapping have been filed against Burley.

Pennsylvania State Police in Lawrence County have taken over the investigation.

What to do if you need help

While incidents this extreme are rare, children can be traumatized be many different situations and often react in different ways.

"We pay attention to the children who are what I call 'acter-outers,' they're going to show their symptoms. But being too good and being too well adjusted is also a symptom, it just often gets missed," Laurie MacDonald, president and CEO at the Center for Victims, said.

Free help, from counseling to accompanying victims through the court system, is available and state law requires police tell victims and their families where to go. But it's up to the individual to seek that help, which can sometimes be hard.

To learn more, visit any of the following links or talk to your doctor: