An Arkansas man dubbed the “blue light rapist” — based on his modus operandi of using flashing police-style blue lights to target his victims — has died of COVID-19.
Robert Todd Burmingham, 54, died Wednesday while serving a life sentence, shortly after testing positive for COVID-19, local outlet KATV reported. He was convicted in 1998 of rape, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping for attacking multiple women around Arkansas and sentenced to life plus 80 years. Burmingham infamously used a flashing blue light to pull over his victims, posing as a police officer. If the victim did in fact pull over, he’d proceed to kidnap them at gunpoint and rape them.
Senior Deputy Coroner Karen Cumming told KATV that Burmingham died on Wednesday afternoon after he was admitted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences while suffering acute respiratory failure. He died of acute hypoxic respiratory failure and viral pneumonia secondary to coronavirus, the outlet reported.
At least one of Burmingham’s victims has expressed relief that he has died.
“While not everyone may agree with me, I’m happy that he has passed,” Shannon Woods told KATV. “Every few months I would get notifications that he had been released under supervised hospital release.”
The survivor said she spoke to one of Burmingham's other victims, following his death, and that woman was also relieved.
Woods was just 17 when Burmingham attacked her. As a teen, she testified in court that he blindfolded her and drove her 90 miles away from where he kidnapped her, then left her face down and alone in a field, Arkansas outlet THV11 reports. DNA evidence led to his arrest.
"I knew that it was kind of on me to seal the deal and get him put behind bars so he couldn't do it to any more women,” she told THV11.
Woods assisted in getting "Shannon's Law" passed, which prevents non-law enforcement people from possessing or selling blue lights in the state of Arkansas. The law was passed in 2017.
Burmingham maintained his innocence during his trial and never admitted guilt subsequently.
While Woods told KATV she finds some closure in Burmingham's death, she added that “full closure would come if I found out that he actually admitted what he did to me as well his other survivors.”
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.