Michelle Martinko, who lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was 18 years old. She was a senior in high school and she was a member of her school’s choir. About two weeks before Christmas the choir records some Christmas songs for a local television show. The show was to air on the morning of December 20th, and then it would replay that evening. The night before the show aired the choir had a banquet at a hotel in Cedar Rapids. After the banquet, Michelle called her parents and told them she was going to the West Dale mall to buy a new winter coat. The mall had just opened months earlier in October. At around 8 p.m. the friends of Michelle saw her at the mall.
But sadly, she never arrived home. At a.m., her worried parents called the police and told them that she hadn’t come home. Two hours later her car was found in the parking lot of the mall. Michelle’s dead body was inside the car. She had been stabbed multiple times in the chest and the face. Her hands were marked with defensive wounds. She was fully clothed and she had not been sexually assaulted. The Medical Examiner thought that she had died around nine o’clock the night before. The television station was unaware that Michelle had been killed and in the morning that she was found dead they aired the footage of her and the rest of the choir singing.
In the early days of the investigation, the police didn’t have much in the way of evidence. It wasn’t long before the case went cold. The first significant suspect emerged a year after the murder. On June 16th, 1980 18-year-old Susan Belotte clocked out of her job in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was reported missing when she didn’t come home. A few days later another young woman was reported missing from Las Vegas. 20-year-old Cheryl Daniels vanished while she was on a date. Her date had run into a store to buy some beer and when he got back to the car Cheryl was missing. Six months later, in the summer of 1980, Cheryl’s body was found in the desert near St. George, Utah. She had been sexually assaulted and shot in the head. Near the body, the police found a wallet.
Inside the wallet was a credit card that belonged to 30-year-old Stephen Morin. The police also found an address written on a piece of paper in the wallet. The police went to the address and found out that a woman was living there. She was a co-worker of Susan Belotte who was still missing. The woman said that Morin has been stalking her. When the police went to arrest Morin he was gone. It turned out that Morin had fled the state. On November 6, 1981, Morin kidnapped 23-year-old Sheila Warren in Golden, Colorado. He took her to a motel room and he stabbed her to death. A month later Morin kidnapped 21-year-old Janna Bruce from a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. He strangled her to death and dumped her body in a culvert. Eight days later Morin was trying to steal a car outside of a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. The owner of the car, 21-year-old Carrie Marie Scott, who was a waitress at the restaurant came out of the restaurant and found Morin in trying to steal it.
She confronted him and he shot her to death. He fled from the scene and the police tracked him down to a motel. In his motel room, they found a woman he had kidnapped days before but Morin had slipped out a window and he was gone. He had gone to a shopping center and kidnapped Margaret Palm. For 10 hours Morin drove around with Margaret in the vehicle. During those 10 hours, they listened to some audio cassettes that Margaret had that were recordings of an evangelist preacher. She’d also read from her journal that had bible quotes in it. Morin then decided to let Margaret go. He traded his bullets for her journal that contained the bible quotes. Morin went to a bus station and he boarded a bus heading to Austin. The police were alerted and they rushed to the bus station. Morin was arrested without incident. He was charged with the murder of Carrie Marie Scott. Morin said that Margaret had converted him to Christianity during the time that he held her captive. Because of his newfound religious faith, he pleaded guilty to capital murder and he was sentenced to death.
He was only the second person to plead guilty to capital murder in the history of Texas. Stephen Morin was also convicted of the murders of Janna Bruce and Sheila Warren. He received a death sentence for both of those convictions. He was never charged with the murders of the two Las Vegas women, Susan Belotte and Cheryl Daniels. The police believe that Morin could have committed anywhere between 30 and 50 murders.
This included the murder of Michelle Martinko. Warren was a drifter who traveled around the country. He was also heavily addicted to cocaine. The police asked him about other murders he may have committed but his answers were always vague. Investigators thought he did too many drugs and he couldn’t remember most of the crimes he committed. On death row, Morin led a Bible study group and even got a degree in biblical teachings. He refused to appeal his conviction and his death sentence. Just after midnight on December 11th, 1985, Morin was brought into the execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas.
Because of Morin’s history of drug abuse, it took 40 minutes to find a vein that they could insert a needle into. They finally found the vein and he was pronounced dead at a.m. The police in Cedar Rapids thought it was possible that Morin killed Michelle Martinko but they couldn’t prove anything, so once again her case went cold. The police have blood samples that were found on Michelle’s coat in the gearshift of her car In 2006 they had the blood tested and discovered that the blood didn’t belong to Michelle. Instead it belonged to a man. Presumably during the murder, the killer was injured and he left his blood in the car. In 2018 Parabon NanoLabs did a reverse genealogy search on the DNA.
Parabon NanoLabs is a DNA phenotyping company that is responsible for helping identify the Golden State killer as Joseph James DeAngelo. Parabon NanoLabs narrowed down the suspects and the police began to follow 64-year-old Jerry Lynn Burns who lives in a small town of Manchester, Iowa, which is about 50 miles north the Cedar Rapids. He had gone to high school in Manchester and he had lived there most of his adult life.
At the time of Michelle’s murder he was 25 years old. The police were able to pick up an item that he discarded that had his DNA on it. It was compared to the DNA found in Michelle’s car and it was a match. On December 19, 2018, 39 years to the day of Michelle’s murder, Jerry Burns was arrested and he was charged with first-degree murder. At the time of his arrest, Jerry owned a powder coating company in Manchester. He also used to work at John Deere and he had co-owned a truck stop that was just outside of town. Jerry was well-known in Manchester, which has a population of about 5,000 people. Everyone thought he was upbeat and friendly. Gerry has one son and two daughters. His family was completely shocked by his arrest.
Jerry didn’t have a criminal record. Had he not been found through reverse genealogy the police would’ve never had a reason to suspect that he stabbed Michelle to death. If there was a motive for the murder the police haven’t made that public. After Jerry was arrested people started to look at tragedies in his life in a new light. Jerry married his wife Patricia in 1975, four years before Michelle’s murder. In June 2008 at the age of 55, Patricia died.
Her death was ruled a suicide. Jerry was questioned by the police after her death, but the police were confident that it was a suicide. Then on December 19, 2013, 34 years to the day of Michelle’s murder, Jerry’s cousin, 55-year-old Brian Burns, went missing. Brian was last seen in his home in Manchester. He has never been found. The police say that Jerry is not a suspect in the death of his wife or the disappearance of his cousin. Jerry Burns will most likely go to trial for the murder of Michelle Martinko in 2019. Number two – Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian In the spring of 1986 Michella Welch was 12 years old and she lived with her family in Tacoma, Washington. She was a bright and talented girl who played the piano and the violin. On March 26, 1986, Michella took her two younger sisters to Puget Park, which wasn’t far from their home. Not long after noon Michella rode her bike home and picked up lunch for her and her sisters. She then rode her bike back to the park.
While she was gone her sisters needed to use the washroom so they left the park and went to a nearby business. When they returned to the park at about one o’clock they found Michella’s bike and their sandwiches on a table but Michella was nowhere to be seen. They looked around the park for her, but they couldn’t find her. So they went home and told their mother that they couldn’t find her. Her mother called the police. Later that night Michella’s body was found by a search dog in a gulch not far from the park. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten and her throat had been cut. Five months later 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian, who also lives in Tacoma, was training for a bike tour. On August 4th, she left her family’s home on her bike and she rode 30 blocks to Point Defiance Park. When she didn’t return home later that day her family alerted the police and a massive search was launched. Over three weeks later, her body was found hidden in a wooded area near a trail that is commonly used by joggers.
Her bike was lying a few feet from her body. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. The police and most people who heard about the murders assumed that they were committed by the same man. Both victims were young girls who were killed after they rode their bike to a park. At first, the police had an array of suspects. One suspect was a man named David Fisher. In 1970 Fisher had sexually assaulted and beaten to death 13-year-old Laura Burbank in Tacoma.
He was arrested but the case against him was circumstantial. He ended up pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was sent to a minimum-security prison to serve his sentence. The prison didn’t have any walls or fences. In September 1974 Fisher walked away from the prison and no one noticed for hours. At the time of Michella and Jennifer’s murders, Fisher was still on the lam and the police thought it was possible that he was back in the Tacoma area.
Another suspect emerged in May 1986, about two months after Michella was killed and three months before Jennifer was murdered. A man named Robert Washburn had called the police and told them that on the day that Michella was killed he was in the same park jogging. He told them as he was jogging he saw a man who looked like the sketch of the suspect. He said the man was also jogging. The police interviewed Washburn after Jennifer was killed and he said on the day that she went missing he just happened to be in that park jogging as well. Since Washburn was in both parks on the days that both girls were killed the police thought he could have been the killer but they had no evidence to prove it so he wasn’t charged. For years the cases sat cold.
Then in December 1989 the television show Unsolved Mysteries did a story about one of the suspects, David Fisher, who disappeared in 1974 after he escaped from prison. After the show aired a tip came in that Fisher was living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He had been working as a door-to-door salesman and he was married with three daughters. He was able to prove that he wasn’t in Tacoma when the girls were killed. There was no progress on the cases for 17 years. Then in 2016, the police compared the DNA from Michella’s murder to the DNA from Jennifer’s murder. It turned out that there were two different killers. The DNA was inputted into the FBI’s combined DNA index system, which is better known by its acronym CODIS, but no match to either set of DNA was found. The police tracked down Robert Washburn who had called the police after Michella’s murder and admitted to being in both parks on the same days as the murders.
In early 2018 he was living in, Eureka, Illinois. The police asked for a sample of his DNA and he voluntarily gave them a sample. It was a match to the DNA from Jennifer’s murder. He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder but the police still didn’t know who killed Michella Welch. Then Parabon NanoLabs became more involved in the case. They inputted Michella’s killer’s DNA into a public genealogy database and they discovered that the DNA belonged to one of two brothers who lived in Tacoma.
Detectives then started to follow both of the brothers. One day in June 2018 detectives followed one of the brothers, 66-year-old Gary Hartman, into a restaurant and they saw that he used a napkin to wipe his mouth. The police collected the napkin and they pulled a DNA sample from it. It was then compared to the DNA of Michella’s killer. It was a match. On June 20, 2018, Hartman was arrested and he was charged with first-degree murder.
Hartman lived in the area where Michella was killed, but he wasn’t a person of interest or a suspect. The police had no idea who he was until he was found through reverse genealogy. Hartman was a married father of two. He was a registered nurse and he worked at the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington. His job was to find community placements for people leaving the State Hospital. He did not have a criminal record and the news of his arrest shocked everyone who knew him. Both Washburn and Hartman are expected to face trial in 2019. A detective who worked on Michella’s case had a message for any killer who left his or her DNA at a crime scene. He said that they should turn themselves in because with the help of reverse genealogy it’s only a matter of time before they will be arrested. Number one – Arlis Perry Arlis Dyckema was born in North Dakota on February 22, 1955, A guiding force in her life from a young age was her evangelical Christian faith.
She attended high school in Bismarck, North Dakota where she was an active member of several Christian groups. In one of these groups, she met Bruce Perry who was in the same grade as her. Both Arlis and Bruce graduated from high school in 1973. Arlis went to Community College in Bismarck and Bruce moved to Stanford, California to study pre-med at Stanford University. Bruce proposed to Arlis during their first year apart and Arlis said yes. They got married on August 17, 1974, and Arlis took Bruce’s last name. After their honeymoon, Arlis moved to Stanford to live with Bruce while he continued his studies. After relocating, Arlis got a job as a receptionist at a law firm. Life as a newlywed in the new city far from her friends and family was tough on Arlis at times. When life became stressful she turned to her faith to help get her through.
On September 17, 1974, the couple had been married for exactly eight weeks Late that night Arlis decided to walk to campus to mail a letter and Bruce joined her. As they walked through the campus they got into a fight over something minor. One of their car’s tires was slowly leaking air and they argued over who was responsible for filling it with air. Arlis was annoyed and she told Bruce that she was going to pray alone at the Stanford Memorial Church, which is on campus. Arlis entered the church and joined several other people who were praying. Everyone but Arlis left the church before midnight. As they walked out a few people saw a young man with a medium build and light brown hair walk towards the church.
At a security guard named Stephen Crawford said he entered the rear of the church and yelled out that he was locking up for the night. Crawford said he didn’t see anyone and the church were quiet so he locked all the doors to the church. Bruce went to the church to check on Arlis because she had not returned home. When he got to the church he found the doors locked so he went back to the residence to await her return. At a.m. Arlis still hadn’t returned home so Bruce went back to the church and once again, he found the doors locked. By a.m. Bruce still had not heard from nor seen his wife and he became worried. He called the campus police and reported her missing. An officer went to the church and found the doors locked so he left.
At a.m Stephen Crawford, the same security guard who locked the doors of the church at midnight started to unlock the church’s doors. When he got to a side door he noticed something unusual. The door had been forced open from the inside. Crawford entered the church and under one of the pews, he found the dead body of 19-year-old Arlis Perry. He left the church and called the police. When the police arrived they found Arlis lying face-up.
She was naked from the waist down and her jeans were lying on top of her. Her right hand was palm down and her left hand was under her body in the waist area. She had been sexually violated with a 24-inch beeswax candle. Another 24-inch candle has been shoved between her breasts. The shove was so forceful that it ripped her bra straps. There were deep bruises on her neck. The bruises looked like they were made by the necklace that she was wearing. It was initially thought that Arlis had been strangled to death but the autopsy revealed an entirely different cause of death. She had been stabbed at the base of the skull at a 45-degree angle with a five and a half inch ice pick. The metal pick was still lodged in her head. The handle of the ice pick had broken off and the killer took it with him. It’s not believed that the killer raped Arlis but the police did find a semen stain on a kneeling pillow that was placed beside her body.
On one of the candles that were used to violate Arlis, the police found a palm print which was the best evidence they had at the time. The first suspect was Arlis’s husband Bruce. His palm print was compared to the palm print that was found on the candle. He was not a match. Bruce was given a polygraph exam and he passed so he was cleared as a suspect. The next suspect was Stephen Crawford the security guard who locked up the church then found Arlis’s body. Just like Bruce his palm print didn’t match the palm print left on the candle. The police asked Crawford to take a polygraph exam and he refused. But since his palm print didn’t match the palm print left on the candle the police had to look at other suspects. One of those suspects was serial killer Ted Bundy but the police were able to confirm he wasn’t in the area at the time of the murder, so he was eliminated as a suspect as well. Unfortunately, after ruling out those suspects, the police had no idea who killed Arlis.
Since the gruesome murder happened in a church there was speculation that the killing was satanic or occult in nature. But police were clear from the early days of the investigation that the crime had no occult or satanic overtones. One detective said it just happened to occur in a church. Another investigator said that the crime seemed like the work of a sexual psychopath instead of the work of Satanists. But this didn’t stop rumors or conspiracy theories that were a satanic or occult murder. The rumors were somewhat bolstered in 1979. David Berkowitz, who was also known as the Son of Sam killer and the 44 caliber killer, sent a package to investigators in North Dakota.
At the time Berkowitz was sitting in prison in New York for the murders of six people. In the package was a book The Anatomy of Witchcraft by Peter Haining. In the margins of one page, Berkowitz wrote: “Arlis Perry hunted stalked and slain followed to California Call the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office California, please ask the Sheriff’s what happened to Arlis Perry.” After getting the book a detective interviewed Berkowitz about Arlis’s murder. The interview didn’t lead to any arrests. In1987 Maury Terry, a reporter with the tabloid the New York Post, published a book called The Ultimate Evil. In the controversial book, Terry asserts that Arlis was killed on the orders of a satanic cult that was based in Bismarck, North Dakota. He called the founder of the called Manson 2. Terry said that Manson 2 was a former member of the Manson Family. Terry then goes on to claim that Arlis was killed by a man named Bruce Perry. Not Arlis’s husband but a different man named Bruce Perry. After the book was published the police still do not think that Arlis’s murder was related to Satanism or the occult.
For years, no progress was made on Arlis’s case. When DNA testing became more prevalent the Stanford police asked Bruce for his DNA. Bruce had gone on to become a doctor. He voluntarily gave the police a sample of his DNA. The police also picked up an object that had Stephen Crawford’s DNA on it. However, it wouldn’t be until 2018 that DNA technology had advanced enough that a profile from the DNA found at the crime scene could be developed. When they got the killer’s DNA profile they compared it to Bruce’s DNA and Crawford’s DNA. BrucePerry’s DNA did not match. Stephen Crawford’s DNA was a match. In June 2018, weeks before his DNA was linked to the crime scene Detectives had to interview Crawford and he knew he was a person of interest.
On the morning of June 28th, 2018 the police pounded on the door of Crawford’s apartment and they identified themselves. They said they had a warrant to search his apartment. He didn’t answer the door so the officers entered the apartment. When they got inside, they saw Crawford sitting on his bed. He was holding a gun. He was in a small room so the officers backed their way out of the apartment. A few minutes later they heard the distinctive sound of a gunshot. Crawford, who was 72, had shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The police searched his apartment and they found a book jacket of Terry Maury’s book The Ultimate Evil, which discusses Arlis’s murder.
They also found a suicide note that was dated two years earlier. He did not address the murder directly in the note. Friends and family of Crawford said that he had developed a hatred of Stanford. Crawford had worked as a police officer at Stanford. He joined the force in 1971. But the year after he joined the force the Chief of Police implemented new qualifications for officers to carry guns.
A lot of the officers were told to reapply for their jobs. About three-quarters of the people that reapplied were not hired back on. This included Crawford. The people who weren’t rehired were offered jobs as security guards and Crawford took the position. The situation made Crawford bitter. He continued to work at Stanford until 1976, about two years after Arlis’s murder. During that time Crawford stole artifacts, bronze statues and rare books from the campus. In 1992, he was arrested in connection with the thefts. He pleaded no contest to the charges and he was given a six-month suspended sentence. The police suspect that Crawford killed Arlis as a way to lash out against Stanford. There is also speculation that Crawford committed other murders on and around the Stanford campus. At around a.m. on September 11, 1973, about 13 months before Arlis was killed, 20-year-old physics student David Levine left the Stanford Physics Department and started to walk to his dorm. Two hours later a jogger discovered his body. He had been stabbed 13 times, a dozen times in the back and once in the chest. Then about six months later, and seven months before Arlis was killed, there was another murder.
On the evening of March 24, 1974, 21 year-old Janet Ann Taylor was on the Stanford campus visiting friends. Janet was the daughter of the former director of athletics at Stanford Chuck Taylor. She was last seen at an intersection on campus hitchhiking towards home. Her dead body was found the next morning by a milk truck driver about three miles from the campus. Her body was in a ditch on the property that was owned by Stanford University. She was fully clothed but she was missing her raincoat, her belt, and her shoes. Those were all found scattered along the road where her body was found. The cause of death was strangulation. The police department said they are looking to see if Stephen Crawford was involved in these murders as well. But for now, they are happy that after 44 years they can close the case on the murder of Arlis Perry.