Cliff in 1987
Cliff in 2007
|Portrayed by|| Dylan Kussman (1987) |
Kale Browne (2007)
Cliff Burrell is the father of Johnny Burrell and the husband of Linda Burrell. When his neighbors and friends, Mitch and Tara Hathaway's six-year-old son Clayton went missing from their thought-to-be-safe neighborhood in 1987, he offered to help him them find their son. Sadly when Clay was found murdered, he could only offer them support.
Cliff appeared to be a nice, caring, and trusting neighbor, husband and father. However, he kept a deep and sinister secret that nobody suspected back then. As it turns out, Cliff was struggling to fight the sexual feelings he harbored for boys; he was a pedophile. He watched and took pictures of his son Johnny sucking his thumb, the same way Clay was found, but did not touch him since Johnny was his own son. While cleaning around the house one morning, he noticed Clay limping across his yard, his knee bleeding after Damon Childress had threatened and pushed the youngster off his bike. Cliff lured the reluctant boy into his garage offering him a soda and cleaning his wound. Gaining the boy's trust, he lured Clay into his garage where he closed the garage door, raped, and murdered him, disposing of the boy's body at the construction site where Mitch worked. During the wake at the Hathaway's house, Cliff framed Mitch when he slipped the photos of Johnny into the bathroom where Tara found them, leading to her accusing Mitch who was later arrested, and sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of his son.
For 20 years, he carried his dark secret, that is until the Cold Case team reopened the case in 2007 following the murder of pedophile Harold Dixon at the hands of Mitch Hathaway, who'd been released from prison after evidence was learned to be contaminated. After interviewing Tara and learning of the pictures with Johnny Burrell sucking his thumb, Mitch calls Scotty, demanding they leave his wife in peace. However, Scotty accidentally let it slip about the photos Tara found, revealing Cliff to be Clay's killer. The detectives are informed that Mitch has taken Cliff on top of the building where he works to avenge his son's death. Cliff desperately begged for his life, but Mitch demanded that he confess.
Scotty tries to reason with Mitch, but he is determined to kill Cliff and then take his own life. However, Tara runs on the rooftop with Lily; Mitch reveals Cliff to be their son's killer as well as the reason their marriage was ruined after he was imprisoned. Scotty gets Cliff to admit how he watched Johnny at night and took pictures, but didn't touch him since he was his son, and how he was unable to fight the urges when he came across Clay, leading to him raping and murdering the boy.
He is spared by Mitch and arrested. However, the case returned to haunt Scotty when Internal Affairs investigated his conduct following the Ed Marteson incident, citing his handling of the affair as possible evidence why he was unfit for the job.