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8-year-old was heroic brother until final moments of life, father says

PITTSBURGH — Mark Mason was just 8 years old when he was killed, allegedly at the hands of his mother's boyfriend following an argument.

Known by his friends and family as Markie, the young boy had been in the car with his mother, brother and 43-year-old Keith Burley.

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Police say Burley assaulted the boys' mother in the car. When she got out at the New Castle Fire Department for help, he drove away with the two boys.

A short time later, Burley allegedly stabbed Markie to death.

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"He was my life, I keep getting choked up every time I talk like this," Markie's father, Mark Mason, said.

Burley had just been released from prison in March after serving a 20-year sentence for murder.

"I warned her. I said, 'If you want to date him, that’s fine, but just keep him away from my kids,'" Mason said.

Markie's brother Matthew was there at the time of the violent attack, but made it out of the home safely.

"He told me that Markie told him to run while he was fighting Keith, and Matthew threw a chair at him and ran," Mason said. "If he wouldn’t of ran, I believe he would’ve killed both my boys."

Matthew then ran for help.

"Seven-year-old kid, 11 p.m., so brave," Mason said. "You know he’s a hero. Both my boys are heroes."