'No remorse' in initial call home

Teista Burwell, missing since 2007, was living in Miami under an assumed name with boyfriend David Kornahrens.

In her first phone call home to Ladson after vanishing more than two years ago, Teista Burwell raved about her fugitive boyfriend, lounging on Florida beaches and feeding stray cats in her Miami neighborhood.

It wasn't until her second call that she inquired about her family, who had been frantically searching for Burwell since she disappeared from a parking lot at Northwoods Mall the day after Christmas in 2007, said her father, Chris Swain.

Swain asked his 23-year-old daughter why she didn't call her family in all that time. She replied simply that she was on the run and couldn't take the risk.

"No apologies, no remorse," Swain said. "It was just strange."

Burwell's family will soon get a chance to see her in person. Charleston County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday escorted her back to the Lowcountry from Miami, where she was arrested April 2, sheriff's Maj. John Clark said.

Burwell has four outstanding bench warrants for missing court in Charleston County on three counts of forgery and one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, authorities said. She likely will have a bail hearing today , Clark said.

Acting on a tip, law enforcement officials found Burwell living under an assumed name with the man authorities had named as a suspect in her disappearance. Burwell was picked up with David Kornahrens, 39, a fugitive with an extensive criminal record who she dated before her disappearance.

Kornahrens was wanted by the Secret Service, Charleston County Sheriff's Office and the state probation and parole department in connection with counterfeiting and strong-arm robbery charges, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Deputy Marshal Amanda Lyons said Kornahrens still is awaiting extradition to South Carolina.

Swain said he hadn't heard a word from his daughter until she phoned home Thursday from the Miami-Dade jail. During the first call, Burwell had a light-hearted attitude and "she acted like it was yesterday" when they last spoke, he said.

She asked for the name and phone number of her Charleston-area lawyer. Besides that, all she talked about was "David, David, David," Swain said.

She didn't offer many specifics, but told him bits about her life with Kornahrens over the past two years, how they were living, working, going to the beach and feeding the neighborhood's stray cats, he said.

Burwell told her father that she had turned her life around and that Kornahrens had made her "a better woman."

She also stated that she didn't think her family or any of her friends loved her, Swain said. But she insisted Kornahrens loved her and made her happy, Swain said.

During their second conversation on Saturday, Burwell didn't mention Kornahrens, Swain said. And she starting asking about family members.

Swain said he doesn't know what to make of it all right now. He's going to take things one step at a time and not make any judgments until he has more information, he said. He hopes one day to understand his daughter's actions.

"I'm thrilled she reached out," he said, "but my emotions are still at a distance."

One person who is not eager to speak with Burwell or her boyfriend is former friend Robert Marcotte. Last year, Dorchester County investigators named him as a "person of interest" in Burwell's disappearance after learning about an encounter he had with her in a Walmart before she went missing.

Detectives later absolved him of guilt, but Marcotte said he remained dogged by a cloud of suspicion that cost him a well-paying job as a deckhand and a video-game sales business. A friend helped him find work at a gas station, but even there he gets funny looks and cold shoulders, he said.

"I don't want to see either one of them, and I hope they get in a lot of trouble for what they've done," Marcotte said of his former friends. "They both turned my life upside down. I can't live a normal life because of this."

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or gsmith@postandcourier.com. Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or dknich@postandcourier.com.