The Pennsylvania State Police Department held a very emotional press conference on January 10th where they announced the closing of a case that began nearly 20 years ago. Police are thrilled to have finally captured the perpetrator behind a decades-old kidnapping and sexual assault case after all these years. Police explained how the community’s involvement, numerous tip-offs and the advancement of DNA profiling all contributed to cracking this important case.
Back in September of 1999, a ten-year-old child was walking with her two friends along the road in Cairnbrook. All three youngsters were shocked and afraid when a stranger pulled up alongside them. Suddenly, he reached out of the vehicle and grabbed the ten-year-old. The two witnesses later told police how the man threw her into his car through the driver’s side. He brandished a firearm and told all three girls that he would shoot the ten-year-old if any of them screamed or went to the authorities. He proceeded to slap the ten-year-old in the face before speeding away.
Later on in the day, passerby’s found the ten-year-old wondering alone near Markleysburg, which is nearly 50 miles away from where she was initially abducted. Pennsylvania State Police investigated and quickly determined that the youngster had undergone horrific sexual abuse while trapped in the car with the unknown culprit. While searching the immediate vicinity, police located a paper bag that would later help them solve the case. The paper bag had been tossed out of the suspect’s vehicle, and it contained both a fingerprint and bodily fluids from the suspect.
A four-state manhunt for the driver was initiated, but the kidnapper eluded authorities. The horrific crime was also featured on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted,” which led to over a dozen fruitful tips from community members. Unfortunately, the case went cold because police couldn’t match the DNA or fingerprints to any known person.
Then, in 2018, a detective decided to re-look at the case. Technological advancements made it much easier to process the old evidence, and thankfully a match was found. Police have now apprehended 50-year-old Timothy David Nelson for the atrocious crime. Overall, he is facing 23 counts for the ordeal including kidnapping, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint and rape. His DNA profile matched two other similar cold cases, so it’s likely he will eventually be charged with those crimes as well.