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Suspect in multiple Utah rapes tied to Wyoming killing, police say

Suspect in multiple Utah rapes tied to Wyoming killing, police say

(Davis County Sheriff's Office)



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SALT LAKE CITY — An Ogden man suspected of being a serial rapist in Utah is now suspected of killing a Wyoming woman in 2001.

The Evanston Police Department on Thursday announced it would be screening charges against Mark Douglas Burns, 69, with the Uinta County Attorney’s Office in Wyoming in connection with the 2001 homicide of an Evanston woman.

Sue Ellen Higgins, 28, was killed in her residence in July of 2001, according to a statement from Evanston police.

“While the Evanston Police Department investigated this case thoroughly, the lack of evidence prohibited resolution and the case became an inactive cold case,” the department said in a statement.

In September, Clearfield police announced that Burns, a long-haul truck driver, had been identified as a suspected serial rapist who had previously only been known as John Doe. Criminal charges against John Doe’s DNA were filed in 2003.

The charges were amended to include Burns’ name. He 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.

Utah authorities were able to identify Burns with help from the Wyoming State Crime Lab. In 2010, using the CODIS database, investigators were able to link to the same person assaults in Clearfield in 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2001; in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1991; in Riverdale in 1992; in Ogden in 1993; in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1996; and in Layton in 1997.

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Evanston police say earlier this month they were contacted by authorities in Utah about their cold case. According to investigators, Burns “has provided material information about this cold case during multiple interviews with Utah authorities and Evanston detectives.”

Burns, who frequently traveled around the West, was convicted of rape in North Carolina in 1974 and served a “lengthy prison sentence,” according to charging documents in Utah. But at the time, the national DNA database used by law enforcers today, CODIS, did not exist.

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