Suspected Serial Rapist Arrested Following DNA Evidence, Police Say
Sep 25, 2019, 5:10 PM | Updated: Jul 16, 2023, 3:32 pm
OGDEN, Utah – Police said they arrested a 69-year-old man accused of raping, kidnapping and sexually assaulting multiple women in Utah and Wyoming over 10 years.
Clearfield Police said Mark Burns was arrested in Ogden on Wednesday. Burns has been charged in Utah with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault, six counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated burglary and a count of aggravated robbery.
Officials said they believe Burns committed several other crimes in Clearfield and could have victims across the western U.S. because of his job as a long-distance truck driver.
“He would make two runs into the Oregon-Washington area twice a week, so he basically only spent three nights a week here,” said neighbor Pat Sheehan. “(He) never caused any problems (and was) very quiet, very much a private person.”
Sheehan said Burns asked him to watch his house while was away.
“It is hard to believe that that is the same person we saw in handcuffs,” he said. “The first two officers that arrived, we watched them take Mark out in handcuffs.”
Each incident had elements in common, such as the victim being bound, an odor of alcohol and the suspect entering through sliding-glass doors and using a knife or firearm, according to police.
Authorities in Albany and Sweetwater counties in Wyoming said they will be filing charges against Burns in their respective jurisdictions.
Clearfield Police officers said they investigated multiple rapes between 1994 and 2001 and obtained DNA warrants for similar crimes in 2001 and 2003.
Officials said advancements in DNA technology allowed police in 2010 to connect four incidents to the 2001 and 2003 cases.
Multiple agencies then began a cold case investigation into sexual assault incidents in Clearfield, Layton and Ogden, Utah, along with incidents in Laramie and Rock Springs, Wyoming. These incidents occurred between 1991 and 2001.
In 2015, officials worked with the television show Cold Justice Sex Crime and said several tips came in after the show aired.
Clearfield Police officers said they contacted genetic genealogist Barabara Rae-Venter, who helped discover a potential familiar DNA relationship.
Poice then investigated leads generated by Rae-Venter’s work in 2019 and detectives said they identified a potential DNA suspect.
Officials said that suspect was Burns, who was arrested Wednesday in Ogden.
Sheehan said Burns moved into the Ogden neighborhood 10 years ago and didn’t raise any red flags.
“We assume we’re are all safe where we are but we’ll keep our doors locked at night,” Sheehan said.
Police expressed their thanks for help in the investigation, which lasted more than two decades.
“We appreciate the multi-agency response to this investigation, as well as the thousands of collaborative hours by past and current detectives, patrol officers and administrators,” Clearfield Police officials said in a statement. “These investigations have spanned over 20 years. Each department with sexual assault cases linked to Mr. Burns has contributed to the successful investigation. We are mindful of the victims and families and extend our sincere appreciation for their continued faith and support throughout the investigations.”