Suspect in 1979 cold case murder was arrested thanks to DNA sample.

6 month ago

After 39 years, an arrest has been made in the murder of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko thanks to DNA sample.

64-year-old Jerry Lynn Burns from Manchester was arrested on Wednesday and charged with First Degree Murder.

Police found 18-year-old Martinko — her face and chest stabbed repeatedly — at 4 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1979, in her family’s tan 1972 Buick in Cedar Rapids’ Westdale Mall parking lot. The Kennedy High School senior drove to the mall after a school choir banquet to shop for a new winter coat.

Burns was 25 when Martinko died. A criminal complaint says Burns acted with "malice aforethought, willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation."

the suspect was linked to the murder by DNA from blood found on Michelle Martinko's clothing and elsewhere in the car at the crime scene.

The DNA profiles helped the Cedar Rapids Police Department use genetic genealogical research to narrow down a specific pool of suspects, which included Burns.

Since May 2017, authorities say more than 100 new tips were given to them in the case. Although none led to an arrest, investigators were able to rule out more than 100 people from the investigation.

Burns made an initial court appearance via video Thursday morning and said he would fill out an application for a court-appointed counsel. The judge ordered a $5 million cash bond, and Burns is set to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 28.