Friends of man arrested in Martinko murder shocked

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MANCHESTER, Iowa (KCRG) -- Police have arrested a suspect in the Cedar Rapids murder of Michelle Martinko. They used DNA evidence to connect the case to Jerry Burns. Burns is charged with First Degree Murder and is now in the Linn County Jail.

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Police believe Burns stabbed Martinko in the face and chest in the parking lot at Cedar Rapids' Westdale Mall on the night of December 19, 1979.

Burns owned the business Advanced Coating Concepts which is a powder coating shop on the south side of Manchester.

He lived on 220th Street, but when TV9 knocked on the door, the woman inside the home declined to comment on Burns' arrest.

Those that knew Burns say he grew up in Manchester, graduating from West Delaware High School in 1972. He had a wife, Patricia Burns, that he married in 1975. She died in 2008.

Mike McElliott, who graduated with Burns and has known him for more than 40 years, told us Burns was a quiet, reserved person who was very nice and approachable. McElliott, like much of the town, was stunned to find out Burns has been accused of murder.

“You’d have a hard time convincing me that Jerry did this. I just, I just could not believe that,” McElliott said.

Multiple people who’ve either met Burns or knew him through his shop off Highway 13 were surprised he was charged in the cold case.