Through the collaborative effort of local law enforcement agencies in Utah and Wyoming, the Davis County Attorney’s Office, the Utah State Crime Lab, Genetic Genealogist Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter and other private industry organizations, today marks the arrest of serial rapist, Mark Douglas Burns (DOB 08/02/1950), Ogden, Utah.
The Clearfield Police Department investigated multiple aggravated sexual assaults (rapes) between 1994 and 2001. During the investigations, DNA evidence was collected, as well as other evidentiary items. In 2003, the Clearfield Police Department obtained a DNA warrant in regards to the sexual assaults that occurred in 2001 and 2003. At that time the rapes that occurred in 1994 and 1995 had not been connected to the 2001 and 2003 cases. In approximately 2010, due to the advancement of DNA technology, four other sexual assaults were linked to the 2001 and 2003 Clearfield cases when the DNA was enter into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In May of 2015, several law enforcement agencies initiated a cold case investigation into multiple sexual assault incidents that occurred in Clearfield City, Layton City, Ogden City, Laramie (Wyoming), and Rock Springs (Wyoming) between 1991 and 2001.
Cases initially linked via CODIS:
• Rock Springs, Wyoming 1991
• Ogden, Utah 1993
• Laramie, Wyoming 1996
• Layton, Utah 1997
• Clearfield, Utah 2000
• Clearfield, Utah 2001
Task Force Investigation:
In May of 2015, Detectives from each agency worked with the television show Cold Justice Sex Crimes. Their expertise and dedication to the cases enlisted several tips and linked other incidents using DNA evidence. Additional, sexual assault incidents in Clearfield City and Riverdale City were then linked utilizing advanced DNA technology.
• Riverdale City, 1992
• Clearfield City, 1994
• Clearfield City, 1995
Each of the above cases share a similar modus operandi, such as the victim’s being bound, repeated sexual assaults over an extended period of time, smell of alcohol beverage, victim’s living in apartment communities, suspect utilizing sliding glass doors, the use of a firearm or knife, and other personal characteristics and crime scene evidence that will not be released at this time. It is believed that this suspect has committed additional crimes in Clearfield, as well as in surrounding jurisdictions, or even states.
After the television show was aired, the Clearfield Police Department continued to pursue every viable lead in order to solve these heinous crimes. As technology advanced, the Clearfield Police Department contacted a genetic genealogist, Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, who was able to study the previously collected DNA evidence to discover a potential familial DNA relationship. Over the past several months, Clearfield City Detectives have investigated several viable leads that were the result of the work performed by Dr. Rae-Venter. Recently, Clearfield City Detectives were able to identify and interview an individual who shared common DNA characteristics with the suspect. Subsequently, detectives were able to identify a possible suspect. The DNA of the suspect was tested and confirmed to match the DNA warrant profile. The suspect was identified as Mark Douglas Burns, DOB 08/02/1950, from Ogden, Utah. The DNA evidence concludes that Mr. Burns committed the brutal attacks in the nine previous mentioned cases. On September 25, 2019, Mr. Burns was arrested in Ogden, Utah, for the sexual assaults.
The sexual assaults were incomprehensible, brutal, and methodical attacks on females. In addition, family members were forced to watch the violent and repeated attacks. These sexual assaults have caused a tremendous amount of pain and grief with all victims and family members. Because of the grievous and brutal nature of these crimes, detectives believe there are more victims and do not believe Mr. Burns suddenly stopped committing such heinous crimes since 2001. Mr. Burns’s occupation included a long haul truck driver and has visited multiple cities in the Western United States. We are encouraging victims who have been assaulted by an unknown attacker with similar circumstances to contact their local police
department. In addition, agencies in the Western United States should check their cold case files or any rape kits that have not been entered into the CODIS database.
This is an active investigation and further details concerning the on-going investigation will not be released at this time. Additional information will be released when applicable. The Clearfield Police Department will continue to work with the Davis County Attorney’s Office in order to prosecute Mr. Burns. In addition, both Laramie and Rock Springs Police Departments (Wyoming) will file criminal charges applicable to the offenses that occurred in their jurisdictions.
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. 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. We hope that they can now find some form of closure to the horrific attacks and abuse that occurred so many years ago.
Aggravated Sexual Assault – 8 counts
Aggravated Kidnapping – 6 counts
Aggravated Burglary – 2 counts
Aggravated Robbery – 1 count
The Clearfield Police Department will have a joint press conference on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 11:00 AM at the Clearfield Police Department, 55 South State Street, 3rd floor Council Chambers.