Investigators crack PA kidnapping cold case with several WV connections

Crime
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A nearly 20-year-old kidnapping and rape cold case that started and ended in Pennsylvania, but also included West Virginia, has been cracked, leading to the arrest of a Maryland man, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

On September 19, 1999, a 10-year-old girl was kidnapped from a street in Cairnbrook, which is a village in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, just north of Shanksville, state police said.

An affidavit of probable cause, filed by Pennsylvania State Police fills in the details of the story from there:

After forcing the girl into his car, the man, identified via a matching fingerprint in December 2018 as Timothy Nelson Jr., 50, of Cumberland, Maryland, began driving south toward West Virginia.  During the drive, he pointed a handgun at the girl and told her he would kill her if she did not stop screaming.  Nelson also hit her in the face at that time.  Several times, he stopped the car and sexually assaulted the girl.

They eventually ended up on state Route 26 in Preston County, West Virginia, where Nelson stopped alongside the road and again sexually assaulted the girl.  Nelson told the girl to clean herself with a paper bag.  He, too, cleaned himself with a bag and threw the materials out the window.

Nelson then drove north, crossing back into Pennsylvania, where he dropped the girl off along the side of the road, before he headed back toward West Virginia.

The girl was picked up by another driver and taken to a nearby home, where Pennsylvania State Police were called.  Investigators recovered the paper bags from the side of Route 26 and were able to get DNA samples and fingerprints from them.  The DNA and fingerprints were sent to the FBI, but no matches were initially found.  In 2004, the DNA sample matched samples from two similar unsolved kidnapping cases from 1988 in the Hagerstown, Maryland area, but no suspects were identified.

Following advancements in technology, the fingerprints were recently checked through the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which is based at the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the FBI in Clarksburg, West Virginia.  A match was found with prints from Nelson, following an unrelated arrest in Maryland.

Nelson was arrested on January 8 at the Cumberland Police Department, where he was being interviewed as part of a separate investigation.

Nelson was extradited back to Pennsylvania, where he was arraigned and sent to the Somerset County Jail, with bail set at $750,000.

The investigation may be taken over by the FBI, state police officials said.

12 News has reached out to the Preston County Prosecutor’s Office to see what role, if any, local authorities will play in the case moving forward.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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