Who Killed Michelle Martinko, How Did she Die

How Michelle Martinko died?

Michelle Martinko was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Albert F. Martinko and Janet Martinko. Her older sister is Janelle. A girl was enrolled at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School when she died. Her teachers and other school administrators deemed her above-average pupil. Not only was she part of the twirling team, but she was also active with the chorus and theater. After college, she decided to study architecture at Iowa State University.

Michelle Martinko
Michelle Martinko

However, on December 19, 1979, Michelle was stabbed 29 times in her forehead, stomach, and chest in an unfortunate turn of events. She had gone to the Westdale Mall to buy a new winter coat after attending a musical banquet. All was well at 8pm-9pm, where she was last seen outside a jewelry shop. However, she hadn't returned home by 2 a.m., when her father notified officials. A search operation began, and police pulled all stops.

Eventually, the tannery and green 1972 Buick Electra was located in the mall's parking lot. They found a dead Michelle there. Her hands found protective wounds. The medical examiner estimated the death time from 8-10 pm. If the tool was a sharp object, a knife was ruled out. Besides this, there were no footprints on the crime scene, nor had the 18-year-old been kidnapped. No evidence of sexual harassment occurred. Thus, the reason behind the stabbing was intimate in nature.

Who assassinated Michelle Martinko?

Jerry Burns
Jerry Burns

In the original inquiry, neighborhood members' tips confused the police. Also, psychics were contacted. After, they also published a composite sketch based on the attacker's description as given by two witnesses under hypnosis. In late teens or early 20s, the culprit was a white male with blue eyes and curly hair. He weighed £165–175. Despite their best intentions, the police couldn't solve the case, and it went cold in the 80s.

However, in a vindicating turn of events, 27 years after Michelle 's murder, a new detective collected tips on the investigation. (Blood had been scraped from Michelle's back and gear shift). He found the murderer's DNA on file, which was used to create a profile. Iowa investigators then reached a commercial genealogy site to see if their database matched. Lead Cop, Matt Denlinger, thought about using this method that found the serial murderer of Golden State, Joseph James DeAngelo.

He started collaborating with Parabon NanoLabs, a firm that now deals closely with police to solve genetic tracing crimes. Lo and behold, a woman's name, Brandy Jennings, emerged. While the crime scene had not found her blood, Brandy was distantly linked to the attacker. Denlinger, whose father was part of the initial inquiry, created an extensive genealogy map to cover all bases. This limited the offenders to three brothers — Ken, Don, and Jerry Burns. He pursued them, quietly recovering their DNA.

That's what finally managed to locate the culprit – Jerry Lynn Burns. On December 19, 2018, he was arrested in Manchester, Iowa, on Michelle's 39th anniversary of death. While he pleaded not guilty to both counts, he was not acquitted. Since deliberating for almost 3 hours, Burns was found guilty of first-degree murder charges at his February 2020 trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Janelle, her husband, John, and her eldest son, Robert.

The family was eventually closed, but it's imperative to remember that Michelle 's parents passed away years before their daughter was taken to justice. First assistant attorney Linn County, Nick Maybanks, said this about the case – "People in law enforcement take their duty and mission seriously. If they commit to supporting a family, as in this situation, look into the eyes of parents who lost an 18-year-old girl and said, 'We'll find the solution to what happened to her,' the public will believe they'll do so, even though it takes decades to do that.'