Details on Investigation into Sexual Assaults and Mark Douglas Burns
*Editors note: This press release contains specific details of violent criminal activity (sexual assault) and may contain details some readers find distressing. It may also not be suitable for readers of all ages.
UTAH | WYOMING – On September 25th, 2019 a long-haul trucker identified as Mark Douglas Burns was arrested in Utah as a result of an ongoing investigation by investigators with the Rock Springs, Laramie, Layton, UT, Ogden, UT, Riverdale, UT, and Clearfield, UT police departments.
In June of 1991, the family of a juvenile female reported that an unknown man crawled through the girls’ bedroom window and forcibly raped the girl at gunpoint. After the assault was complete, the man left through the same window and ran away. At that time there were few leads developed however physical evidence including suspected semen was found at the scene. At that time DNA processing was in its infancy and only a blood type of the suspect was immediately identified.
In 2007 the evidence sample was reexamined by the Wyoming State Crime Lab at which time a DNA profile was identified and entered into the CODIS (Combined DNA Indexing System).
Almost immediately, that profile was matched with two additional DNA profiles, one from Ogden, UT, and the other from Clearfield, UT that took place in the 90’s and early 2000’s. A Detective with RSPD made contact with investigators in those cases at which time an MO was established and a Cold Case Task Force was unofficially formed.
The suspect in these cases was found to enter residences through unlocked windows or sliding glass doors during the night, and awaken the victims. He would then bind them, blindfold them, and sexually assault them for between 15 minutes and two hours, often while other family members were present in the residence and sometimes even in the room. The suspect would then leave, often leaving little evidence other than biological evidence in the form of bodily fluids.
Between 2007 and 2012, several more cases were entered into CODIS by other agencies and the following related cases were identified…
As a result of those additional DNA hits, a Cold Case Task Force was organized and began follow-up on previously unknown information. In 2015 the case was featured on the television program Cold Justice-Sex Crimes when investigators spent two weeks going through available leads. A press conference was held that time that led to over 200 new leads being developed that were followed up on. Many people believed the suspect to be their neighbor, brother, uncle, father, or friend.
None of those leads led to identification of the suspect.
During that two week investigative session, ninth case out of Riverdale, UT was found via VICAP, and a rushed DNA exam determined the suspect to be the same DNA contributor as the others.
This would be identified as the youngest victim to date. A witness in that case observed a man leaving the apartment complex the girl lived in, in what he thought was a Pontiac Firebird.
As a result of the multiple DNA hits, that DNA Profile was provided to a Genealogy examiner who was able to determine a family line, and ultimately a male DNA profile of a man who lived in the Clearfield, UT area. A sample of that man’s DNA was obtained surreptitiously and processed. The man’s DNA was not that of the suspect, but was close enough that the suspect family member could be tentatively identified by name, as Mark Douglas Burns. A sample of Mark Burns’ DNA was obtained, also surreptitiously and rushed to the Wyoming State Crime Lab where they were able to process, and positively match that DNA sample to the previously unknown suspect within hours.
Investigators, now knowing the identity of the suspect then began follow up information including tracking locations of where Mr. Burns had been over the past 28 years, his criminal history, and work history. After the preliminary information was complied, those investigators gathered in Clearfield, Utah to surveil, and make contact with Burn at his residence on September 25th. Burns was arrested without incident.
This investigation is ongoing. Based on timelines and other information yet to be released, investigators believe Mr. Burns to have other victims. (Multiple cases in the state of Utah have been reported with similar MO’s, however DNA was not available for testing in those cases). If you know Mr. Burns, or have any other information pertaining to Mr. Burns, please contact Sgt. Tim Robinson or the Detective Division at the Rock Springs Police Department.
If you live in another jurisdiction, please contact your local authorities.
More information will be available as this case proceeds through the legal system, and all suspects are considered innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law.