A Maryland man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to abducting and raping a 10-year-old Somerset County girl in 1999.
Timothy D. Nelson Jr., 50, of Cumberland, Md., entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson in Johnstown on charges of kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse of a person under 12 years old.
According to case documents, Nelson faces a potential life sentence on each count and a possible $500,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 27.
Citing advances in fingerprint analysis, investigators last year were able to match Nelson with partial prints obtained from a brown paper bag and napkin recovered from the scene of the sexual assualt in West Virginia. Nelson also was linked to the crime through DNA after his arrest in January.
According to U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady, Nelson grabbed the girl in September as she was walking with two other children near the Somerset County village of Cairnbrook. Nelson placed the girl on the floor of his car and drove away, threatening her with a handgun and striking her with his hand to quiet her screams, Brady said.
Nelson drove into West Virginia, where he forced the girl to perform a sex act. He then threw a bag and napkin out the car window that authorities say contained his DNA, his partial fingerprints and the victim’s fingerprints.
Shortly after driving back into Pennsylvania, heading in the direction of Markleysburg, Nelson dropped the girl at the side of the road, where she was offered assistance by a passing motorist, Brady said.
“This horrible crime struck fear into the heart of the community,” Brady said in a prepared statement. “Through the perseverance and dedication of law enforcement and the bravery of the victim, justice has been served.”