Cortland Pizza Joe’s robbery leads to arrest in Warren man’s murder

Austin Burke, 18, is charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old Brandon Sample, of Warren

Austin Burke; charged with the murder of Brandon Sample.
BRISTOLVILLE: Arrested June 21 - Austin Burke, 18, charged with murder


BRISTOLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – An investigation into an armed robbery at a Pizza Joe’s in Cortland led investigators right to the suspect in a Warren man’s murder.

Police arrested 18-year-old Austin Burke and charged him in connection with the death of 22-year-old Brandon Sample.

Sample was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a wooded area in Bristolville last Thursday. He had been reported missing by his family last week.

“Police have talked to the family and our prayers go out to the family,” said Trumbull County Sheriff Paul Monroe. “He’s a victim of a serious crime.”

Police said they have evidence linking Burke to the murder.

Cortland police said they’re still investigating but they “highly suspect” Burke was also the man who robbed the Pizza Joe’s on Tuesday night.

They were called to the restaurant at 10:13 p.m. by employees who said a man pointed a gun at them and demanded money.

“So much could have happened last night but had [the employees] not, you know, did what they were supposed to do and, you know, what they needed to do, it could have been much worse,” said General Manager Stephanie Kerstetter.

But it was while officers were searching for a suspect that the Trumbull County 911 center said it was receiving tracking signals in the area from a suspect wanted for Sample’s murder.

The signals led investigators to a Cortland apartment in the 200 block of W. Main Street with several people inside, including Burke.

He is now in the Trumbull County Jail, scheduled to appear in Newton Falls Municipal Court at 9 a.m. Thursday.

There’s still a lot of questions surrounding Sample’s death. Did the two know each other before? Has the murder weapon been found? How did Sample’s car end up in the woods off the Niles bike path?

“Those are parts of the investigation, only certain people know the answers to those questions. At this point, we’re not prepared to release them,” Monroe said.

Police said there are no other suspects at this time but they don’t know if Burke is the one who drove Sample’s car to Niles.

Burke has been arrested in the past and Warren Township police said he’s also a suspect in several burglaries earlier this year.

Brandon Sample, 22, was found dead in Bristolville last week. His car had been driven to Niles.
Brandon Sample, 22, was found dead in Bristolville last week. His car was found abandoned in Niles.

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