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State police to release details of nearly 20-year-old abduction, rape of Somerset girl

Paul Peirce
| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, 5:03 p.m.
Timothy D. Nelson, 50. of Cumberland, Md.Timothy D. Nelson Jr., 50. of Cumberland, Md.
Timothy D. Nelson, 50. of Cumberland, Md.Timothy D. Nelson Jr., 50. of Cumberland, Md.

State police plan to announce Thursday details of a nearly 20-year-old investigation into the abduction and rape of a 10-year-old Somerset County girl that resulted in the arrest Wednesday of a 50-year-old Maryland man.

Trooper Stephen Limani said Trooper Jeff Brock arrested Timothy D. Nelson Jr., 50, of Cumberland, Md., after DNA linked him to the case that had thwarted investigators for almost two decades.

On Sept. 19, 1999, Nelson is accused of 23 criminal charges including kidnapping, rape, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, making terroristic threats and aggravated indecent assault on a person less than 13-years-old. He is accused of abducting the girl in rural Shade Township, near the village of Cairnbrook, driving her to West Virginia, where she was assaulted.

He then released her in Fayette County near the West Virginia border.

Police said the girl was held about three hours.

According to reports in the Tribune-Review following the assault, the suspect drove past three girls who were walking together on a main street. He then asked them if there was a flea market, then he picked up one of the girls, tossed her over his shoulder and threw her into the car and drove off, police reported.

Troopers described the incident as brazen as residents reported seeing the daylight abduction, according to reports.

The kidnapping set off an extensive search by state and local authorities.

The girl was found more than 50 miles away at approximately 5:30 p.m. after the suspect released her near Markleysburg, a mountainous area of Fayette County not far from the West Virginia border. The youngster walked to a nearby residence.

In addition to state police, local police departments and the FBI assisted.

“Unfortunately, at that time no new leads were developed,” Limani said.

Several Somerset County communities cancelled Halloween trick-or-treat as a result of the abduction, according to newspaper reports following the abduction.

The suspect was described as a white male, about 30 years old, with dark hair and a military-style haircut. He reportedly was wearing a green shirt, a green-and-tan baseball cap, bright green shorts and dark shoes.

The man was driving a teal blue Geo Metro coupe with lime green stripes, police said.

State police plan to release more details of the investigation during a press conference 11 a.m. Thursday at the Somerset station.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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