He attended St. Denis Parochial School and Monsignor Bonner High School, an all-boys parochial school, where he was an athlete.
Burt reportedly was involved in making and planting the bomb. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was involved in the varsity crew team. After being cut from the team, he became more active in journalism and student politics.
He became radicalized after being beaten by a policeman while covering a protest against the Kent State shootings. The Sterling Hall bombing on the campus of the University of Wisconsin killed Robert Fassnacht, a post-doctoral physics researcher and caused injuries to three others. It also caused $2.1 million in damages.
At the time, it was the largest bombing in the United States. Burt and his associates fled to Canada where they were tracked by the FBI. One of the last times he was heard from was August 30, 1970, when he and David Fine escaped from their apartment building in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada as the police closed in on them. Burt left behind a wallet with a fake ID using an alias of Eugene Donald Fieldston.
Burt was indicted by the federal government on September 2, 1970 for sabotage, destruction of government property, and conspiracy. Despite having been on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for six years (September 4, 1970 to April 7, 1976), Burt has not been captured and is still at large, with a reward outstanding for information leading to his arrest. The FBI has offered a reward of $150,000 for information leading to his arrest.
In addition to the federal charges, there are state charges still pending against Burt. On September 29, 2007, Burt was featured on The Fox Television series America's Most Wanted as the "Ghost of Wisconsin". In 2010, near the fortieth anniversary of the bombing, several tips on Burt's possible location were received by the FBI, including a sighting at a Denver homeless shelter.
Some have speculated that he could be in the St. Catharines area of Canada, an area he had visited during summers in his youth. Numerous anonymous tips have also indicated sightings in Lakewood, Washington as recently as 2010.