Arrest in 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko

Michelle Martinko, courtesy Robert J. Riley

Michelle Martinko, courtesy Robert J. Riley

Michelle Martinko was found dead on Dec. 20, 1979. She was repeatedly stabbed most notably in her face and chest. Police discovered her body in the family Buick in the parking lot of the Westdale Mall, Cedar rapids, Iowa. Police said there was no sign of a sexual assault, but she had wounds that indicated she fought with her attacker.

In October 2006, police announced they had developed the suspect’s DNA. However, no match was found in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

In May 2017, Cedar Rapids Police Department released a suspect composite sketch based on that DNA.

And today, they announced an arrest.

Jerry Lynn Burns (64) was arrested Wednesday Dec 19, 2018 and is facing a first-degree murder charge. “A covert DNA sample collected from a suspect by police was matched to blood found at the crime scene. With this evidence, investigators questioned Burns at his workplace in Manchester, where he denied committing the alleged killing. He was unable to offer an alternative explanation for why his DNA would have been found at the crime scene. He will appear in Linn County Court Thursday morning.”

“The medical examiner’s office said Martinko was found fully clothed and had not been sexually molested. Detectives found no weapon or fingerprints to identify a suspect and said Martinko had not been robbed. Based on the number of stab wounds — particularly to the young woman’s face — police considered the homicide personal in nature.” Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Casey Jones ordered a $5 million cash-only bail.

According to Iowa Courts Online, it appears Burns only has traffic offenses on his record. I will post more as it becomes available.

Rest in peace, Michelle Marie Martinko.

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