May 22, 2020 | By Sara DeLucca
Joshua Levi Burch, remembered as Levi by his friends and family, was only twelve years old when he shot and killed his first eight-point deer.
“It wasn’t no monster, but it was a decent buck” described his father, Lynn.
Lynn took his son hunting often, but this trip was especially memorable as Levi managed to shoot not one, but two eight-point bucks on the day. “He really had a drive for deer hunting,” Lynn said.
From hunting deer in the wooded areas of central Florida to lobster diving in the salty waters of the Florida Keys, the Burch family spent most of their time outdoors.
Morgan Puente, Levi’s older sister, shared memories of the two of them chasing each other through the woods, building forts, digging holes in the dirt, and catching lizards with their bare hands. Levi loved being outdoors, so much so that when Morgan tried to go inside and clean up, Levi would usually try to get her to stay outside and continue playing with him.
According to his father, Levi was an easy kid to raise. He was full of energy, driven, and especially easy-going.
Morgan couldn’t agree more with her father. “Levi had a joyous energy that continued to whoever he was around,” she said.
Levi was always joking around and making people laugh. His joyous and bright energy was contagious at times.
“You just never knew what Levi was going to do next,” Morgan said.
September 4, 2010, would be the last time that Levi went hunting, however. It would be the last time that he worked out at the gym or played a round of golf with his buddies. It would be the last time his father grilled him a steak and some potatoes – the last time they sat down and ate dinner together.
In the early morning of September 5th, Levi was driving on Pleasant Hill Road in Kissimmee, Florida with two friends in his burgundy truck. Suddenly, an SUV pulled up beside them and opened fire.
One passenger was able to safely steer the truck into a gas station parking lot to call for help.
Levi was transported to Osceola Regional Medical Center where he died a short time later. Neither of Levi’s passengers were injured during the shooting.
Investigators believe Levi’s murder was the result of a road rage incident. Witnesses described a black or Hispanic man, driving a black SUV, possibly a Nissan, as the suspected shooter.
He was last seen heading north on Pleasant Hill Road at a high rate of speed.
Morgan had just graduated from Florida State University and was living in Tallahassee when she received the phone call that would change her life forever.
When she first answered the phone on that Sunday morning, she knew something was wrong – but she assumed it was news pertaining to one of her older grandparents. She was devastated to learn that it was her twenty-year-old brother who had been killed.
“It made me realize that no matter your age or circumstance, you could be gone in the next second,” said Morgan.
Levi was in his second year at Polk State College in Lakeland working towards his associate’s degree when he was killed. He hoped to one day become a game warden.
“Levi loved life,” Lynn said. “He only had twenty years, but he certainly packed a lot in those years.”
Since his death, the Still Water Christian Life Center Church has raised money each year for a scholarship in Levi’s name. For the past six years, the church would host a wild game feast where they sold raffle tickets and donated a portion of the money to high school students in the area.
“Healing is a life-long journey,” Morgan stated. “I don’t want his death to be in vain. I make the conscious choice to live intentionally and every single moment I am so grateful. Even the moments that hurt, I always look for a lesson.”
Levi was Lynn’s only son. The only one on his side of the family to carry on the family name. When talking about his son’s murder, Lynn expressed that this has taught him “to love the people around you. Because no one is guaranteed tomorrow.”
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Joshua “Levi” Burch, no matter how small you think it is, please call the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at (407) 348-2222. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward up to $5,000 call Central Florida Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS.
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This article was first published on November 14, 2016. The spotlight article was updated on May 22, 2021.