GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — It has been six months since financial adviser and radio host Chris Burns vanished, taking a big stash of cash and the trust of everyone who knew him.
For the first time, Burns’ ex-wife is speaking publicly about her husband, the search, and the scam she’s learned was their life. Meredith Burns said she’s as confused and hurt as anyone.
“I have no idea who I was living with,” she told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas.
Last September, her husband of 17 years grabbed a large amount of cash from clients, claimed he was going to see his out-of-state parents, and then vanished. His show was on WSB Radio. He was not an employee but bought the airtime.
“Did you have any indication he was about to leave?” Thomas asked Meredith Burns.
“I literally had family pictures scheduled for that Sunday. I mean, I had no clue,” she said.
The disappearance came one day before a deadline to turn over financial documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency is investigating problems with Burns’ peer to peer lending program at his Sandy Springs based Dynamic Money and Investus Advisors companies.
Now, instead of facing only civil penalties, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved.
“As of right now we are looking at a loss of $10 million dollars and dozens of victims in this case,” agent Steve Ryskoski said.
“It hurts a whole bunch because that money was earned with time away from home,” said Angie O’Connor, who is one of Burns’ victims.
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Through federal filings, police reports, and Meredith Burns own words, a picture of those final days are taking shape. The couple had a $1 million lake home, cars, a boat and large savings. Meredith says she knew little about their finances.
“Take me through that week or so before he disappeared,” Thomas asked.
“He seemed kind of like up and down,” Meredith Burns said.
Investigators said her husband went on a collection spree, took in $320,000 from investors and moved all but a few into personal accounts.
On the day before he left, Meredith says Chris did a lot of paperwork. He transferred assets to her and had her sign some things.
“Later on, I would find out that was divorce paperwork. But I didn’t know it that day,” she said.
Then her husband stopped by their kids’ school, and supposedly took off for North Carolina. His family received routine texts from him that night. Meredith realized the Carolina story was a lie the next morning.
“And so at that point, I just, I remember just kind of like just crumbling in the driveway. Because I just knew something was really, really, really off. And so I called the police,” she said.
Within hours of Chris Burns’ disappearance, Meredith called police but she says no one would take her seriously in those first couple of days.
So she tracked his vehicle down through GPS to a perimeter area parking garage.
“I remember driving in thinking, ‘Am I going to find a dead body?’” she said.
Meredith Burns says she found a few receipts for certified checks, his hat, but not her husband.
“Do you still believe he is alive today?” Thomas asked Ryskoski
“Yes,” he responded.
“Do you still believe he is in the country?” Thomas asked.
“Yes,” Ryskoski responded.
Those words were a shock to Meredith Burns.
“Do you believe he’s alive?” Thomas asked her.
“I think that if he’s not alive, that it wouldn’t be at his own hands,” she said.
Ryskoski told Thomas that investigators are still actively looking for him. The FBI froze almost all of the couple’s assets. Meredith Burns said she’s struggling, was conned herself and wants justice.
“He needs to be brought in for these crimes,” she said. “Turn yourself in. It’s beyond time.”
Chris Burns is wanted on mail fraud charges. The FBI will take its case national on Monday hoping for any information or tips.
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