Where is Jerry Lynn Burns now? | The murder of Michelle Martinko

Jerry Lynn Burns

What did Jerry Lynn Burns do?

Jerry Lynn Burns evaded capture for the murder of Michelle Martinko for nearly 40 years, but in 2018 his luck ran out. There is nothing worse than when a murder case goes cold, leaving the victim’s family without justice being served. That is what happened in this case, but thanks to law enforcement’s most useful tool since the initial introduction of DNA technology, they finally got their man. Familial DNA has been used for several years now and famously led to the arrest and conviction of the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, after years of his getting away with it.

In 2018, a cold case review team used DNA data from the case and uploaded it to the public genealogy website GEDmatch, where it found a familial DNA match. DNA was then covertly collected from Iowa local Jerry Lynn Burns, and it matched the sample discovered on Martinko’s clothing.


What happened to Michelle Martinko? 

The murder of Michelle Martinko happened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on the 19th of December 1979. Martinko was an 18-year-old high school student with her whole life ahead of her when she was found stabbed to death in her family’s tan and green 1972 Buick Electra car. The perpetrator killed Martinko with a large kitchen knife and stabbed her a total of 85 times. 

At 2 a.m., when Martinko hadn’t returned home, her father reported her missing. At 4 a.m., police found Martinko collapsed over the passenger seat of the car in the northeast corner of a shopping mall parking lot. A year went by since Martinko’s brutal slaying and the police were no closer to catching her killer. Hundreds of people were interviewed, but no evidence materialised. A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to the culprit, but the case went cold. 


Where is Jerry Lynn Burns now?

Jerry Lynn Burns was arrested in 2018 for Martinko’s murder. On the 24th of February 2020, he was found guilty of first-degree murder. On the 7th of August 2020, Burns was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Burns is currently imprisoned in the Anamosa State Penitentiary in Iowa. On the 31st of March 2023, the Iowa Supreme Court denied Burns’ appeal and upheld his conviction. 

The convicted murderer had argued police violated his constitutional rights by obtaining the DNA sample that tied him to the murder scene. The killer is 69 years old now and will die in prison.


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