Scream Wiki
Scream Wiki

Sheriff Burke

Sherriff burke.jpg
Portrayed by Joseph Whipp
Location Woodsboro
Occupation Sheriff
Status Alive
Appearance(s) Scream

Sheriff Burke led the official investigation of the original Woodsboro murders in the first film.


Sheriff Burke is Dewey Riley's superior and he makes his first appearance, along with Deputy Dewey in Principal Arthur Himbry's office at Woodsboro High School. In the office, they questioned Sidney about Casey Becker and Steven Orth.

Later, Sidney is attacked by Ghostface at her home, she suspects that her boyfriend, Billy Loomis, was the one who called and attacked her because she saw a cell phone slip from his pocket, minutes after the calls. Billy was arrested and Sheriff Burke arrived as Dewey was reading Billy his rights. Dewey also found the Ghostface costume, which is named Father Death on the package at a costume store.

At the Woodsboro Police Precinct, Burke interrogated Billy, who was with his father Hank first asking him why he has a cell phone. Billy answered that everyone has one, denying that he called and harrassed Sidney. Hank defends his son saying "check the phone bill for Christ's sake!" then asked if he can contact Vital Phone Comp, because that have the records of every phone number dialed. Burke continued to interrogate Billy first asking him why he was over at Sidney's house. Billy answered that he wanted to see her, Burke then asked about last night pointing out that Sidney said that he came though her window last night. Hank asked his son if he went out last night, being unaware that Billy left the house. Billy answered that he was watching TV then got bored and decided to go out for a ride. Burke then asked him "Did you happen to ride by Casey Becker's house?" Billy denies it and says he didn't kill anybody. Burke told Hank that they will have to hold Billy until they get those phone records. Billy is placed in jail but before that Hank vouched that Billy was using his mobile phone. Dewey then shows Burke the Father Death costume saying that they sell it every five in dime in the state and there's no way to track down the purchase. Burke then asked about the phone bill and Dewey said they pulling Billy's phone bill and won't learn anything until the morning. The next morning, Dewey informs Sidney that Billy's phone records are clean and it couldn't have been him making those phone calls to her or Casey Becker, which results in Billy released from jail.


Burke is later seen while Dewey was on his break he informs him that the phone calls were coming from Sidney's father, Neil Prescott's cell phone. He also tells Dewey that tomorrow is the anniversary of Neil's wife Maureen Prescott's murder. He says they'll keep the road blocks and a curfew in a effect for the night but if he's not pick up by morning they'll do house to house apparently suspecting that Neil is the killer. Later at the end of the film, Billy and his best friend Stu Macher admitted that they're the killers and that they used Neil's cell phone to make their anonymous phone calls after they abducted Neil. Sidney with help from news reporter Gale Weathers turns the tables on Billy and Stu and kills them both. While Gale does an impromptu report on the events of the previous night, Burke may have arrived to tend to Dewey who was taken out on a stretcher after being injured.

Dewey later took over being Sheriff sometime before the events of Scream 4. It is unknown when Burke retired, as he is not mentioned in the fourth movie at all.

Behind the Scenes

  • Described as "a round man in his fifties" in the script.
  • Joseph Whipp's role is a nod to A Nightmare on Elm Street, in which he portrayed Sgt. Parker.
  • In Scream 3, Neil Prescott tells Sidney that he's been in contact with the police over the deaths of Cotton Weary and Christine Hamilton. Burke may have handled the Woodsboro side of the Hollywood murders. He may also have been affected by Ghostface calling, and then breaking into, the Woodsboro Sheriff's Department for Sidney's file.
  • It's unknown who, if anyone, played him in the Stab franchise.
  • Burke himself was a suspect due to the boots he wore.
  • Sheriff Burke quit smoking before the events of Scream, but he resumed due to the stress of the murders.