MANCHESTER, Iowa -- A Manchester man is accused of killing a Cedar Rapids high school student, with police announcing his arrest on the 39th anniversary of her death.
Jerry L. Burns, 64, was arrested Wednesday in Manchester and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held in the Linn County Jail in Cedar Rapids and is scheduled to make a court appearance Thursday morning.
He is accused of the Dec. 19, 1979, stabbing death of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko.
Martinko's body was found just after 4 a.m. Dec. 20 inside her family's car parked at Westdale Mall. She had stab wounds to the face and chest. She had driven to the mall to shop for a coat after leaving a school banquet.
Police said they matched a blood sample from the crime scene with a sample taken from Burns.
"Cedar Rapids police investigators have continued to work the case over the past 39 years," a press release noted.
In 2006, investigators were able to identify DNA from the killer among evidence from the scene, but searches of a national DNA database did not produce any hits.
"Investigators sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs, a company that specializes in DNA phenotyping, the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence," the release states. "They produced trait portraits for the associated person of interest. Predictions were made for ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling and face shape. The Cedar Rapids Police Department released the composites at a press conference on May 16, 2017."
Investigators have continued to work on the case since then, and Burns emerged as a suspect, the release states.
"He was questioned (Wednesday) at his place of employment in Manchester and denied committing the offense but could offer no plausible explanation why his DNA would be found at the crime scene," the release states.