Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Name: Seth Robert Floyd
Nicknames: Bear
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date: March 9, 1993


Details: Twenty-five-year-old Seth Floyd was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. In 1989, he and his girlfriend moved to Washington State. They later moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In February 1993, he was arrested on burglary and drug charges. On the afternoon of March 9, he was found dead in his Allegheny County jail cell. He was hanging by the neck from his bunk with a ligature made from his shoelaces, a nylon cord, and a bedsheet. The authorities told his family that he had committed suicide. But they believe he was murdered.
Seth’s family noted that he weighed 300 pounds, and it seemed unlikely he would be able to successfully hang himself with such a thin ligature. There were also no bruises to indicate he had fallen from a height. He also had dried blood on the left side of his lip, which had swollen to twice its size. A mattress and bedding partially covered his body.
Seth’s mother, Leatrice, says she spoke to him two days before his death, and he did not seem depressed or suicidal. She also learned he had spoken to his girlfriend about an hour before his body was found. The girlfriend said he was in “good spirits.”
Suspects: None known
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the January 6, 1995 episode, which focused on Dr. Cyril Wecht.
  • It was also featured in the documentary film, "Beyond Conviction."
  • No photographs of Seth are available.
Shawn burton

Shawn Burton

Results: Unresolved - One week after Seth’s death, Leatrice had his body examined by a forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht. During the autopsy, Dr. Wecht found several things that immediately caused him to rule out suicide. First, there were no deep indentations in the skin of Seth’s neck to indicate that he died by hanging, especially considering his weight. Next, there were no abrasions in the interior of the throat, even though hanging victims normally have these abrasions as they gasp for air in the seconds before death. Also, there were no marks on the back of Seth’s neck to indicate a “sweep” during the fall from a height during the hanging. Finally, he felt that Seth’s bruised, puffy lip was from a punch to the mouth.
Dr. Wecht determined that Seth had been strangled to death. After he completed the autopsy, he contacted the local pathologist and told him to contact the police about his findings. On March 19, 1993, prisoners Shawn Burton, twenty-five, and Melvin Goodwine, twenty-six, were charged with Seth’s murder. Burton was in jail on drug charges, while Goodwine was being held on drug and robbery charges.
One inmate told authorities that he had seen Burton and Goodwine talking to Seth in his cell on the day of the murder. When questioned, Goodwine admitted to being in Seth’s cell for a short period of time. However, Burton denied ever being in or near the cell. He later admitted being near the cell when Seth died, but still denied ever being in it.
Two other inmates reported that they saw Burton and Goodwine scuffling with Seth in his cell shortly before he was found dead. They reported seeing Seth try to free himself from his attackers. One of them also reported seeing Burton and Goodwine running away from the cell a short time later. Another inmate reported seeing Burton standing over Seth’s body right after the murder took place.
Another inmate reported that he overheard Burton telling someone on the telephone that “they [him and Goodwine] were going to get together and fix” an inmate from California. Yet another inmate claimed that Burton told him that Seth had been “choked with a plastic bag and then suffocated.” Burton allegedly said that he had entered Seth’s cell and hit him, and that someone else grabbed him around his legs before he was choked to death. And yet another inmate claimed that Burton and Goodwine approached him, asking for help in killing Seth. They offered him $3,000, but he refused to help.
In September 1993, Burton and Goodwine both went on trial. It was alleged that they murdered Seth because he had burglarized the home of one of Goodwine’s relatives. In their defense, some of the inmates claimed that Burton and Goodwine were playing cards with them while the murder took place. They also claimed that the other inmates were getting deals for their testimonies.
On September 28, Burton was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy. He was sentenced to life in prison. Goodwine, however, was acquitted of the murder charge. He was convicted of conspiracy and given a five-to-ten-year sentence. He was also sentenced to thirteen years in prison for bank robbery.
In 2009, Goodwine filed a motion to expunge his criminal record. Attached to the motion was a letter in which he confessed that he had killed Seth in self-defense. He said he was advised not to use that defense at trial. He also said that Burton was innocent. In 2010, he was released from prison.
In 2013, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project contacted Burton’s sister and told her about Goodwine’s confession. With this information, Burton filed for post-conviction relief. He argued that he filed as soon as he found out about Goodwine’s confession, and that because he was incarcerated, he was unable to discover that information sooner. Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel ruled that he was “too late” in his filing.
In 2015, the state Superior Court overruled Judge McDaniel. In April 2017, the state Supreme Court said that she must have an evidentiary hearing before dismissing Burton’s petition. In October, the hearing was held. One of the witnesses against Burton admitted to Burton’s lawyer that he had lied in court. However, the witness later sent a letter to Judge McDaniel, saying that he would not cooperate. Another witness also admitted to lying, saying that he had done it in exchange for legal favors. However, he died before he could testify.
When Goodwine took the stand, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Judge McDaniel found his testimony to be not credible and denied Burton’s newly discovered evidence claim and post-conviction relief. In May 2019, Judge McDaniel’s ruling was overturned by the state Supreme Court. However, a new judge also dismissed Burton’s petition, finding that Goodwine’s confession was not credible. In June 2022, Burton sought relief in federal court, claiming that he was denied his due process rights in Common Pleas Court.