#sextrafficking | Cedar Rapids and Iowa City investigators, Linn County prosecutors receive awards for work on Michelle Martinko cold case, sex trafficking ring | #tinder | #pof | #match

In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a Cedar Rapids police investigator and Linn County prosecution team, and the Iowa City Human Trafficking Task Force have been given special awards for their tireless work on a decades-old cold case murder and a sex trafficking ring.

U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan of the Northern District and U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum of the Southern District of Iowa joined the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to celebrate victims’ rights, protections and services, which started Sunday. This year’s theme is “Seek Justice, Ensure Victims’ Rights and Inspire Hope.”

Deegan and Krickbaum announced the two awards Tuesday which are based on service to victims in Iowa.

Cedar Rapids Police Investigator Matthew Denlinger was presented with the Law Enforcement Victim Services Award. This is the highest federal honor that is given to law enforcement officers who go beyond the call of duty to help crime victims.

“Investigator Denlinger showed dedication to victims while investigating the 1979 fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition to completing an exhaustive investigation, Investigator Denlinger showed great compassion for the victim’s family, ensuring they never lost hope that the guilty party would be brought to justice.”

Jerry Burns, 66, of Manchester, was convicted of first-degree murder and faces life in prison without parole as the result of Denlinger’s “thorough investigation and his conscientious dedication” to the victim, office officials said.

The Award for Excellence in Victim Services is presented to First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks, assistant county attorney Michael Harris and Anastasia Basquin, chief liaison and community outreach specialist with the office.

“This team showed great compassion to Michelle Martinko’s family during the first-degree prosecution of her killer, Jerry Burns,” according the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Not only did they thoroughly prepare a convincing case to ensure that a murderer was brought to justice, they thought about the victim and her family every step of the way. Because of their dedication, compassion and hard work, a murderer will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“After so many years, Investigator Denlinger and the team at the Linn County Attorney’s Office brought a measure of justice to Michelle Martinko and her family,” Deegan, in a statement, said Tuesday. “In doing so, they demonstrated they are true public servants and steadfast champions for victims of violent crime.”

In the southern district, the Law Enforcement Victim Services Award is presented to the members of the Iowa City Human Trafficking Task Force consisting of: Iowa City police detectives David Gonzales, Mike Smithy, Andy Rich and Jennifer Clarahan; Special Agent Jagat Sandu of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation; Coralville police detective Hanna Dvorak; and Johnson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Katrina Rudish.

“The Iowa City Human Trafficking Task Force worked tirelessly to serve and protect victims, including child victims, of human trafficking, resulting in the successful prosecution of Kendall Streb, 52, of Hills, along with five other defendants, for sex trafficking and related offenses in the Southern District of Iowa,” according to officials.

The team worked together to develop relationships with “reluctant victims, putting in endless hours to connect the victims with needed services,” such as counseling, legal services and financial assistance for school supplies.

“The compassion for and dedication to the victims in this case was extraordinary,” officials said.

This year, the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Award Ceremony will be postponed until a time this year’s recipients can be presented with the awards in person, officials said.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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