CBS “48 Hours” on Saturday will spotlight a 40-year-old Iowa murder case that has raised questions about whether the killer could be linked to Jodi Huisentruit’s abduction.
Jerry Burns was convicted last February of killing 18-year-old Michelle Martinko.
Michelle was a high school senior when she was found stabbed to death in 1979 in a parking lot at the Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids. She was getting into her car when she attacked.
Investigators used a familial DNA database in 2018 to connect Burns to the decades-old crime.
During the course of a videotaped police interrogation, a detective said Burns brought up Jodi’s case, unsolicited.
Because of similarities in Michelle and Jodi’s looks, the fact both women were attacked in parking lots and that Jodi had worked as a reporter at KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids from February 1991 to April 1992, investigators wondered if the cases could be connected. (Jodi was based in their Iowa City bureau.)
Jodi was abducted in 1995 as she was getting into her car outside her Mason City apartment complex. She was heading to KIMT-TV to anchor the morning news.
Very little forensic evidence was found in Jodi’s case.
Investigators revealed a palm print was found on Jodi’s car and a strand of hair was also discovered. They have not said publicly if a DNA profile was obtained from that hair.
In a preview of the upcoming episode, a “48 Hours” press release said:
“There is no known DNA evidence tying Burns to the Huisentruit case and no evidence that he knew Jodi Huisentruit. Mason City police won’t disclose whether or not they are now looking at Jerry Burns as a suspect in that case.
“Could Jerry Burns have committed murders other than Michelle Martinko’s? When asked that question by ‘48 Hours,’ (investigator) Matt Denlinger replied, “I don’t know the answer to that. My gut tells me there’s probably something else out there.”