EVANSTON, Wyo. — Police in Wyoming have named an Ogden man facing several sexual assault charges as a possible suspect in a homicide that took place in 2001.
Authorities said that Mark Douglas Burns, 69, has provided information to police regarding a cold case murder that occurred in Evanston, Wyoming, according to a press release from the Evanston Police Department.
In July 2001 police discovered the body of 28-year-old Sue Ellen Higgins, whom police say was killed in her Evanston home. A lack of evidence proved the case difficult to solve, and the case went cold but remained an active investigation.
Evanston police said they were contacted earlier this month by police in Utah about Higgins’ death. The release said Burns has “provided material information about this cold case during multiple interviews with Utah authorities and Evanston Detectives.”
In the release, the Evanston Police Department “anticipates submission of its investigation to the Uinta County Attorney’s Office for consideration of charges related to Mrs. Higgins’ 2001 homicide.”
Burns, who is held at the Davis County Jail without bail, was arrested in September after he was linked via familial DNA to several open rape cases throughout Utah and Wyoming.
Years prior in 2003, Davis County prosecutors filed sexual assault charges linked to a DNA profile, but could not connect a specific person to the profile.
Following his arrest, Burns found himself facing 17 felony counts, including multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping stemming from multiple reported attacks.
During a press conference after Burns’ arrest, law enforcement officials from around Utah and Wyoming detailed how their investigation led to Burns.
Behind Clearfield Police Chief Kelly Bennett at the press conference were officers from departments in Ogden, Layton, Riverdale, and Rock Springs and Laramie, Wyoming.
Bennett said a Utah State Crime Lab scientist’s investigation identified a distant relative of Burns’, then she built a family tree and narrowed her search to a half brother of Burns.
Bennett said the nine cases linked to Burns had similar descriptions, including that most victims lived in apartments with sliding glass doors that he apparently forced open. He said the suspect was typically armed with a knife or gun and would bind the victims before repeatedly raping them over long periods.
In November, Burns pleaded not guilty to all 17 felonies levied against him in Davis County.
Burns’ next scheduled court appearance is slated for Feb. 20 in Farmington’s 2nd District Court.