The Cedar Rapids Police Department has made an arrest in a 39-year-old cold case involving the homicide of Michelle Martinko.
CRPD Chief Wayne Jerman announced in a press conference Dec. 19 that Jerry Lynn Burns, 64, of Manchester, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Just after 4 a.m. Dec 20, 1979, Martinko was found stabbed to death in the Westdale Mall parking lot. Martinko was 18 years old at the time of her death.
According to a Facebook post by the Cedar Rapids Police Department, "it was on Dec. 19, 1979, Michelle Martinko drove her family’s 1972 Buick Electra to Westdale Mall to shop for a winter coat after leaving a school banquet at approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening. Martinko’s parents reported her missing around 2 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1979. Police found the Buick in the northeast section of the Westdale Mall parking lot shortly after 4 a.m.
"Cedar Rapids police investigators have continued to work the case over the past 39 years. On Oc. 2, 2006, cold case investigators announced new evidence, the suspect’s DNA, was developed in the case. The DNA was uploaded in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database that houses DNA profiles developed from crime scenes. When profiles of convicted offenders are uploaded to the database, CODIS searches its current index system to see if the offender’s DNA matches a profile in an unsolved crime. Investigators never received a match through CODIS.
"Investigators sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs, a company that specializes in DNA phenotyping, the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence. They produced trait portraits for the associated person of interest. Predictions were made for ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape. The Cedar Rapids Police Department released the composites at a press conference on May 16, 2017.
"Since that time, investigators continued to pursue information and Jerry Lynn Burns was identified as a suspect from DNA evidence. He was questioned today at his place of employment in Manchester and denied committing the offense but could offer no plausible explanation why his DNA would be found at the crime scene.
"Police Department and Linn County Attorney’s Office will continue to treat this case as an active and ongoing investigation until there is adjudication in court.
"Today’s arrest and filing of charges against Jerry Lynn Burns was the result of persistent and determined investigative work by the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the results of scientific DNA analysis. The defendant will make his initial appearance tomorrow morning in Linn County District Court and the case will eventually be scheduled for trial."
Disclaimer: Any arrest information included above is based on the legal conclusion that, as with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.