CLEARFIELD — A long-haul truck driver from Ogden was arrested Wednesday in connection to at least nine alleged rapes in Utah and Wyoming in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Mark Douglas Burns, 69, is charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault, six counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated burglary, and one count of aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies.
Charges filed in Davis County’s 2nd District Court years ago against a then-John Doe for alleged assaults in Clearfield in 2000 and 2001 were linked Wednesday to Burns’ name. Additionally, DNA evidence has led investigators to believe Burns perpetrated at least seven other attacks in Utah and Wyoming throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, according to a statement from the Clearfield City Police Department.
Investigators in different jurisdictions linked the “incomprehensible, brutal and methodical attacks” after commonalities were discovered between them, the police department said.
Multiple alleged victims reported being bound, being sexually assaulted repeatedly over a period of time, their attacker smelling like alcohol, and their attacker using a gun or knife. Other similarities included the fact that multiple victims lived in apartment buildings, and that their attackers were suspected of using a sliding glass door.
Additionally, the police department wrote, “family members were forced to watch the violent and repeated attacks.”
Burns is accused of assaulting women in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1991; in Riverdale in 1992; in Ogden in 1993; in Clearfield in 1994 and 1995; in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1996; in Layton in 1997; and in Clearfield in 2000 and 2001.
Investigators were able to link the 1992 Riverdale attack and the 1994 and 1995 Clearfield attacks to the other cases using DNA evidence after working with the TNT show “Cold Justice: Sex Crimes” in 2015, Clearfield police said.
Still, investigators say there may be more attacks that have not yet been linked to Burns.
“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,” the police department said in the statement.
The victim in the 2000 attack in Clearfield told police she was sleeping on July 29 when a man woke her up and told her not to say anything or he would “cut her throat,” according to charging documents. The woman said the man blindfolded her and repeatedly raped her before tying her wrists and feet and leaving.
Almost one year later, on May 22, 2001, another woman in Clearfield reported that a man wearing gloves and a nylon stocking over his head came into her bedroom while she and her husband were sleeping, charging documents say. The woman told police the man pointed a gun at the couple and tied up and blindfolded the woman’s husband, then asked the woman who else was home.
When the woman told the man that her brother and her 19-year-old daughter were home, the man forced the woman to show him where they were sleeping, according to charging documents. The man then brought everyone to the master bedroom and tied their wrists and ankles together before repeatedly assaulting the woman and her daughter, the charging documents say.
The man also pointed a gun at and tied up the woman’s son, who came home from work while the attack was taking place, the woman told investigators. The attacker reportedly demanded money from the family before leaving.
Police began investigating Burns after DNA led genetic genealogy consultant Barbara Rae-Venter to a “close relative” of the then-unidentified attacker, according to charging documents. Police learned in an interview with that relative earlier this month that Burns lived in Utah and was still working as a long-haul trucker.
Investigators then analyzed DNA collected from items in Burns’ garbage can and found that his DNA matched the DNA profile of the attacker in multiple unsolved sexual assault cases.
Burns was convicted of rape in North Carolina in 1974 and served a “lengthy prison sentence” there before moving to Utah, according to charging documents. Court documents from North Carolina confirm Burns was convicted of first-degree rape in Onslow County.
Both the Laramie and Rock Springs Police Departments also plan to pursue criminal charges for the alleged attacks that happened in their jurisdictions, according to Clearfield police.
Investigators are encouraging any other potential victims to come forward, and urging all other local departments in the West to check their cold case files or any rape kits that have not been entered into the CODIS database.