A serial rapist and confessed serial killer is getting ready to be sentenced for first-degree murder on Friday, due in part to a confession he gave to FOX 13 investigative reporter Adam Herbets earlier this year.
Mark Douglas Burns was arrested in September 2019, identified as a serial rape cold case suspect known as “the Clearfield Rapist.”
He evaded police for nearly 30 years, living an undercover life as a truck driver in Ogden.
Investigators had been looking for the Clearfield Rapist after identifying at least 11 victims who were sexually assaulted between 1991 and 2001.
This series of interviews with FOX 13 is only being released now due to the conclusion of ongoing investigations.
Burns was cordial and seemingly forthcoming throughout most of the interviews. He said he had not committed a crime since 2002.
“It just left. I no longer felt like committing crimes, so I didn’t,” Burns said. “I was wondering if perhaps I would get caught some day because of DNA — the advancement of DNA. Now that that has happened, I figured I might as well go clear the books. Try to give as many people a sense of justice as possible… I’ve always wished that there was something I could have done. Well, I haven’t always. Since 2002, I’ve wished there was something I could have done for my victims. Other than confess.”
(3) The Clearfield Rapist told me he hasn’t committed a crime since 2002… when his desire to fulfill his sick need started to fade. pic.twitter.com/a3M4DZiq8u— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) December 4, 2020
Burns said he did not wish to be caught, but his arrest felt like “a great weight lifted off of me.”
“It gave me the opportunity to provide closure to my victims. They certainly deserve it,” Burns said. “I’m a marine. I’ve always had a very high sense of honor, and the fact that I could do something like that to people is so unhonorable. I don’t know how I could have convinced myself that it was okay.”
Many of Burns’ victims lived in apartment complexes with sliding glass doors.
Although investigators said they believed Burns used his trucking route as a cover to commit crimes, Burns said that is not true.
“I didn’t pick (my victims). Just whoever left the door unlocked,” Burns said. “ I had a compulsion that was irresistible… On the one hand it was a hunger that was unquenchable, unsatisfiable, but on the other hand it fed me. It made me feel complete.”
Burns declined to state how many women he has assaulted.
“My memory’s not as good as it used to be, but I’m not going to get into that now,” Burns said. “Obviously there were probably some that were never even recorded. There may be some that (police) don’t know about. I will inform them of those cases as well and confess to them as well.”
(5) During our interview, the Clearfield Rapist confessed to three homicides. One in Oregon. One in Arizona. One in Wyoming.— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) December 4, 2020
Tomorrow he will be sentenced for the 2001 murder of Sue Ellen Gunderson Higgins in Evanston, WY.
In 2005, her husband was arrested + falsely accused. pic.twitter.com/Ghde6NGcfM
During the interview, Burns confessed to homicides he had committed in Oregon, Arizona, and Wyoming.
He said he does not object to being labeled a serial killer.
“If that’s what it is, then that’s what it is,” Burns responded. “It doesn’t bother me. I mean, it is what it is. If that’s what I am, then that’s what I am.”
Burns was then charged with the 2001 murder of 28-year-old Sue Ellen Gunderson Higgins in Evanston, Wyoming.
In 2005, Higgins’ husband was arrested in New Mexico. Charges were eventually dropped as law enforcement realized he was wrongfully accused.
Burns will be sentenced for first-degree murder and attempt to commit aggravated robbery on Friday.
He classified the killings in Oregon and Arizona as “self defense.”
“The one in Wyoming… is actually the only female victim I ever killed, and that one was just a total mistake. My bad,” Burns said. “She had nothing to do with — she did nothing wrong. Totally my bad. It was just a situation that just went to **** instantly, and I chose the wrong way to handle it.”
Detective Josh Carlson of the Clearfield Police Department said investigators are continuing to work with various law enforcement agencies in Arizona and Oregon.
"We don't know where (those crimes) occurred, and we're trying to figure that out," Carlson said. "It could be anywhere (in those states)... we are working on a couple leads at this time."
Burns said he decided to speak to FOX 13 in February 2020 because he was aware of an upcoming investigative report analyzing his criminal history.
Burns had been previously sentenced to death for another rape committed in 1974. In that case, he targeted a woman in a McDonalds restroom in North Carolina.
Burns was scheduled to enter a lethal gas chamber on May 3, 1974
Instead, a judge vacated the death sentence.
At the time, Burns said he remembered being young and happy.
Now he wishes to return to death row.
“I was only 23 when I was arrested. By the time I got my death sentence vacated and was given a 25-30 year sentence, I was eligible for parole in like 6.5 years,” Burns said. “When they called me out of my cell to take me down to vacate the sentence, I had no idea. I didn’t even know even what was going on… I’m almost 70 years old (now). I’m not going to live much longer anyway. You know, another 10-12 years. So even if I get a death sentence I’m gonna spend probably 8 or 9 years waiting to be executed.”
(7) Earlier this year, FOX 13 investigated why Mark Burns was able to escape death row for a rape he committed in North Carolina back in 1974.— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) December 4, 2020
It’s still unclear why a judge made an exception that saved his life.
LINK: https://t.co/7edbfSEcjd pic.twitter.com/RCM7w4456E
Burns said he has never been able to explain why he committed violent sexual crimes, but he would like for his brain to be studied for abnormalities.
“I don’t know if it’s a chemical imbalance. Maybe I’ve got an extra Y chromosome. Maybe it’s just a loose wire. I don’t know. My brain does not function like a normal human being,” Burns said. “Up until recently I’ve never experienced a feeling of guilt. I do feel regret. I do feel remorse. I do feel sorrow. These are feelings I’ve never experienced before.”
“I never experienced love,” he continued. “Maybe these crimes were just some way of me actually being able to present my whole entire complete self as a human being to another person, whether they wanted it or not… I’m still not a normal human being. I am a sexual deviant. I am a predator. Maybe I’ll live long enough that that will go away too.”
In April 2020, Burns was sentenced to 242 years to life for the rapes in Utah.
He asked the judge for no mercy and expressed discomfort having to face his victims.
“He couldn’t stand me wearing anything, not even my socks,” recounted one of the survivors, who asked to be anonymous. “He robbed me of my virginity, safety, and sleep since that traumatic night. I have never again slept through the night, ever. Not once for nearly 20 years… The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”
Nichole Eyre was 11 years old when Burns assaulted her. She said telling her story of survival has helped her feel strong.
“That’s a great feeling to never have to look over my shoulder again,” Eyre said.
Prior to sentencing in Utah, Burns said FOX 13’s reporting of his case “was pretty fair and accurate, except for a couple points.”
“You leaned to the negative, failed to lean to the positive,” Burns explained. “I have become what I think is a responsible citizen. I’m a good neighbor. I’m a good friend. I’m a good employee. I think I’m basically a decent human being if it wasn’t for the fact that I was also a monster.”
Prior to sentencing in Wyoming, Burns said he was no longer interested in speaking to FOX 13.
(9) Burns told me “anything that I say is going to be 100 percent factual and correct.”— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) December 4, 2020
However, according to a sexual assault survivor who was 11 years old at the time, her parents were very close to catching him.
If true, in this clip Burns either lied or forgot. pic.twitter.com/1G1Yy4PcUT