GREEN RIVER — A 70-year-old Odgen, Utah, man already serving a life sentence for sexual assaults he committed in Utah was handed another life sentence for a crime he committed in Rock Springs nearly 30 years ago.
Mark Burns pleaded guilty to seven felony charges in Third District Court this afternoon including four counts of first-degree felony sexual assault, one count of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated assault and battery for a crime he committed on June 10, 1991.
The strange arc of Burns’ criminal history began back in 1974 when was convicted of rape in North Carolina. He served 16 years in prison for that crime and was released in 1990.
June 10, 1991
Burns told Judge Richard Lavery that he was an Army brat and moved back to Ogden where his family last settled after he served his sentence. He had no connection to Rock Springs, but was just passing through on his way back to North Carolina because he had violated his parole and needed to see his parole officer.
“I knew I was going back to prison for another year or two, so I decided to commit a rape,” he said.
Burns, a Marine who had been dishonorably discharged, said he saw an apartment complex across from the gas station he was at, then parked his car there but didn’t see an opportunity to enter any unit.
He then saw a house across from the complex with an window open. He entered the bedroom of a 14-year-old girl who was sleeping, held her at knife point and said “if you do what I tell you, I won’t hurt you.”
He then taped her hands in front of her and proceeded to commit four separate acts of sexual assault on her. After about 30 minutes, he said he got into his car and drove back to North Carolina.
Burns told the court he committed between 10-12 rapes in eight different states during his life. His spree took a homicidal turn in 2001 when an armed robbery resulted in the death of an Evanston woman at her home.
He managed to elude law enforcement for 18 years while he drove a truck across the country. He admitted to killing a man posing as woman hitchhiker who promised him sex for a ride to Phoenix.
“That one had it coming,” he told Lavery.
Burns would later become known as “The Clearfield Rapist” after his arrest and conviction on 17 felony charges in Utah. When he was in prison, he said he wrote the FBI and confessed the murder in Evanston back in 2001.
During her victim impact statement, the woman involved in this case spoke passionately how her rape has affective herself and generations of her family.
She also thanked Rock Springs Police Department Detective Tim Robinson for his diligence in continuing to work her case long after it had gone cold.
Thanks to advances in DNA profiling, the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office was able to make a case against Burns after his arrest in Utah.
At the end of the hearing today, Burns asked Lavery to show him “no mercy,” because he understood the heinous nature of his crimes. Combined with his convictions in Utah, Burns has been sentenced to just under 500 years in prison.