Cedar Rapids Police Department Investigator Matt Denlinger discusses DNA technology with Marengo residents during Martinko case event

On Sunday, Matt Denlinger, an investigator with the Cedar Rapids Police Department (CRPD), shared details at the Marengo Public Library about how Michelle Martinko’s killer, Jerry Burns, was finally caught.
(Courtesy CBS2Iowa.com)

On Dec. 19, 2018 — the 39th anniversary of Michelle Martinko‘s brutal murder — Cedar Rapids police announced they’d made an arrest in the Cedar Rapids High School senior’s unsolved homicide.

Police arrested 64-year-old Jerry Lynn Burns of Manchester, Iowa, and charged him with first-degree murder in Martinko’s death. A Scott County jury convicted Burns on Feb. 24, 2020, and he was later sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, Cedar Rapids police Investigator Matt Denlinger shared details about how he caught Burns during their Martinko case event at the Marengo Public Library.

Cedar Rapids police Investigator Matthew Denlinger
(Courtesy Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

When Denlinger joined the CRPD in 2015 and picked up where Det. Doug Larison left off, Denlinger used all new investigative tools to track down the popular teen’s killer. From phenotyping with Parabon Labs to genetic genealogy, he worked tirelessly to find the perpetrator.

His efforts paid off when Burns was identified after using the new DNA technology.

Burns was convicted after authorities matched the DNA they got from a straw he used at a restaurant.

Friends of Marengo Public Library made Sunday’s public discussion possible.

Read more about the event here.

We Remember … Upcoming Anniversaries

We remember cold case anniversaries and birthdays the victims would have celebrated.


Frank Goff Frank Goff
36 YOA
612 SE Jackson
Des Moines, IA
Case # 1977-35047
September 23, 1977
David Shumpert David Shumpert, 27
400 Blk. E. Locust
Des Moines, IA
Killed Dec. 2, 1999
Would have celebrated 51st birthday Sept. 25
Kim Loose Kimberly “Kim” Loose
16 YOA
From: Blue Grass, IA
Died in: Walcott, IA
Scott County
September 26, 1986
Terri McCauley Terri McCauley
18 YOA
33rd & Pavonia St.
Sioux City, IA
Woodbury County
September 27, 1983
Robert Bates Robert “Kip” Bates III
39 YOA
Jump Start Conoco
Carter Lake
Pottawattamie County
September 27, 2007
Lyman Elledge Lyman S. Elledge
65 YOA
Barney Wiskus lawn
Colesburg, IA
Delaware County
September 28, 1951
George Keller George R. Keller, 61
Rural Route 34
Woodburn, IA
Clarke County
Case # 81-05701
September 28, 1981
Craig A. Petersen
20 YOA
Mississippi River
Montpelier, IA
Muscatine County
September 28, 1986
Roger Joynt
26 YOA
Mason City, IA
Cerro Gordo County
Case # 78-06397
September 29, 1978
Robert Clary Robert M. Clary
48 YOA
419 1/2 14th Avenue S.
Clinton, IA
Case # 82-05190
September 29, 1982
Bambi Lynn Dick Bambi Lynn Dick, 17
DNA match in Texas
March 26, 2009
Went missing from
Davenport, IA
September 29, 1983
Joyce Jefferson Joyce Jefferson
23 YOA
Black Hawk Rd.
Waterloo, IA
Body Found: 10/8/83
DOD: Sept. 29, 1983

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