'Clearfield Rapist' who raped and sexually assaulted more than a dozen women sentenced to 242 years in prison

Mark Douglas Burns apologized for his actions and claimed he was a 'sexual deviant' who 'had a compulsion that was irresistible'


                            'Clearfield Rapist' who raped and sexually assaulted more than a dozen women sentenced to 242 years in prison
Mark Douglas Burns (Davis County Sheriff's Office)

FARMINGTON, UTAH: A serial rapist who is believed to have attacked and sexually assaulted at least a dozen victims across northern Utah and Wyoming has been sentenced to nearly 250 years in prison for his crimes.

Mark Douglas Burns, 69, a long-haul truck driver from Ogden, had managed to evade the authorities' grasp for close to three decades before the dedication of a group of cold case detectives, as well as advancements in DNA analysis and genealogy, conspired to finally bring him to justice.

During his spree, Burns used to reportedly slip into homes through sliding doors, bind his victims and, sometimes, their family members, and then rape the women multiple times. Police said he used to threaten to slit their throats and forced his victims to perform sex acts on him.

One of his victims, Nichole Eyre, was just 11-years-old when he broke into her Riverdale home in May 1992, held a knife to her neck, covered her eyes with duct tape, and drove her to an empty parking lot where he attacked her.

Investigators said he also terrorized women in the 1990s in Clearfield, Layton, and Ogden, as well as in two Wyoming towns, Rock Springs, and Laramie, and that the attacks carried on into the new millennium.

In May 2001, he broke into a Clearfield home and victimized a family, with court documents stating that when the woman heard the door open, she initially thought it was her 20-year-old son coming back from home. 

But when she went to investigate, she was confronted by Burns wearing a nylon stocking over his head. He pointed a flashlight and a gun at her before proceeding to bind five of her family members in a bedroom. When everyone was bound, he raped the woman and sexually assaulted her 19-year-old daughter.

It is thought to be the incident that earned him the nickname "The Clearfield Rapist."

Prosecutors in Utah filed sexual assault charges against a John Doe in connection to the attacks in 2003 but could only link it to Burns this past September after a genetic genealogist used a public database to find one of his relatives who had uploaded their DNA online.

When questioned, that family member told police Burns lived in Ogden and was still working as a long-haul trucker. Investigators then through his trash and retrieved water, beer bottles, soda cans, and a paper towel with a red stain.

DNA on those items matched that collected in sexual assault examinations of the Clearfield women and Burns was subsequently arrested and charged.

Unfortunately, the statute of limitations on Eyre's case, as well as several others, had timed out. So prosecutors, instead, charged him with 17 felonies in connection to attacks he carried out in Clearfield between 2000 and 2001.

In February, he pleaded guilty to eight charges of aggravated sexual assault, six counts of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated robbery.

Burns appeared in court over a video feed and apologized for his actions. "When I look back at the things that I had done, it makes me sick to my stomach," he said. "The reason I say this is, I want my victims to know that when I tell them, I’m sorry, I mean it. I realize that saying I’m sorry doesn’t fix what I did. Pleading guilty and going to prison doesn’t fix what I did. But it’s all I can do for them."

He told the court to "show me no mercy," a request which Farmington's Second District Judge John Morris duly obliged. 

Morris ordered the 69-year-old to consecutive sentences totaling at least 242 years in prison for the "heinousness" of his crimes — 16 years to life for each of eight counts of aggravated sexual assault and six counts of aggravated kidnapping; plus lesser terms of six years and up to life for counts of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.

Speaking after his sentencing, Eyre said, "None of us survivors have to look over our shoulder to wonder where he is. What is he doing? Is he behind me at the grocery store? He’s never going to haunt us again, and that is a wonderful feeling."

"I just cannot believe how lucky he’s been. And I think it’s about time his luck ran out."

Burns has also been accused in the 2001 murder of 28-year-old Sue Ellen Higgins in Wyoming, as well as murders in Oregon and Arizona. He previously admitted to killing Higgins because he "panicked," and said he had given the FBI enough information to prove his confessions regarding the other two homicides are not false.

"My brain does not function properly," he said. I am a sexual deviant. I am a predator… I had a compulsion that was irresistible. It was unsatisfiable… I never admitted it to anyone."

He is yet to be prosecuted over those charges.

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