‘John Doe’ Charges Updated After Suspected Clearfield Rapist Arrest
CLEARFIELD, Utah – Detectives said they spent years building a case against 69-year-old Mark Douglas Burns’ DNA profile and were able to present charges against him as a John Doe.
With those charges now updated, the next step is a preliminary hearing before a judge, which could take place in the next few days or weeks.
Police said the known sexual assaults span over two decades and involve 10 victims.
“This investigation has spanned for, in some cases, nearly 30 years,” said Clearfield Police Chief Kelly Bennett.
Since the first alleged crime occurred in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Burns had managed to evade justice, according to police.
The details of the known sexual assaults between 1991 and 2001 in Rock Springs and Laramie, Wyoming, and Ogden, Layton, and Clearfield, Utah, are difficult to process.
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“In researching those cases, all of those cases shared similar modus operandi,” Bennett said, “such as the victims being bound, repeated sexual assaults over an extended period of time, the smell of an alcoholic beverage, victims living in apartment communities, the suspect utilizing sliding glass doors. The use of a firearm or a knife.”
According to a press release from the Rock Springs Police Department in Wyoming, the sexual assaults lasted up to two hours often while other family members were present in the home and even in the same room.
In one case, Burns is accused of raping a mother and daughter.
“We would like to recognize the victims in this case… and acknowledge their courage and perseverance for the past several years, they have lived through some horrific and incomprehensible memories of for several years,” Bennett said.
A link to Burns began to surface through the little evidence he left behind including biological evidence in the form of semen, according to the Rock Springs Police Department.
With it, detectives created a DNA profile of some of the cases and began linking them to the same suspect of the years.
“We were also informed of a genetic genealogist by the name of Doctor Barbara Rae-Venter,” Bennett said.
Rae-Venter also helped police in California identify the “Golden State Killer.”
By comparing the suspect’s DNA profile to others submitted on genealogy databases, Rae-Venter was able to find a potential relative match in Burns’ half-brother.
“We interviewed that individual and obtained a DNA swab from that individual,” Bennett said of how they confirmed his relationship to the suspect’s DNA profile.
Detectives then zeroed in on Burns.
“We were able to find items in his garbage,” Bennett said.
Detectives collected a water bottle, a beer bottle, four soda cans which resulted in a positive match between Burns and the suspect’s DNA profile, leading them to prepare for an arrest.
“Eight counts of aggravated sexual assault, six counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated robbery,” Bennett said of the charges Burns is currently facing.
With more charges possibly being filed in Wyoming, police said they hope victims can find healing and a sense of justice.
“We hope and pray for each one of them that they can find some closure and some peace as they continue to live through their lives,” Bennett said.
Police said they met with most of the known victims to provide an update on the case.
They also think Burns continued assaulting women and there could be more victims across the western U.S.
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