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Press Release

Maryland Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for September 1999 Kidnapping and Sexual Assault of Somerset County, PA Girl

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - A resident of Cumberland, MD, has been sentenced in federal court to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay $5,000 assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act on his conviction of kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse of person under 12 years old, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson imposed the sentence on Timothy D. Nelson, Jr., 50.

According to information presented to the court, on September 19, 1999, Nelson drove into a Cairnbrook, Pennsylvania, neighborhood and drove past a group of three minor females multiple times. The group was walking when the vehicle came by one more time, stopped, and Nelson exited his car and asked them a question. As the minor victim, a 10-year old girl, began to answer, Nelson grabbed the minor victim and placed her in the car through the driver’s side and exited the area. Nelson then placed the minor victim on the floor of the front passenger seat. While driving away from the area of the abduction, Nelson threatened the minor victim with a handgun pointing it at her head. The minor victim was screaming and Nelson struck the minor victim with his hand in an attempt to quiet her.

At some point, Nelson drove the car and the minor victim into West Virginia. When Nelson eventually stopped the car, he forced the minor victim to perform a sex act. Afterwards, Nelson gave the minor victim a paper bag and napkin to clean herself with. Nelson also cleaned himself and then discarded the bag out the window.

Nelson then drove the vehicle in the direction of Markleysburg, Pennsylvania, and shortly after crossing the Pennsylvania line from West Virginia, dropped the minor victim off on the side of the road, instructed her to count to 100, and then proceed to a location to call her mother. Subsequently, another vehicle happened upon the minor victim who was in distress and offered her assistance. Law enforcement responded, to include the Pennsylvania State Police.

The minor victim was subsequently able to direct law enforcement to the location of the sexual assault and the brown paper bag and napkin were recovered which appeared to contain evidence of the above-described assault. The evidence was subsequently forensically examined

and determined to contain multiple partial fingerprints and DNA extracted from the bodily fluids. Certain of the recovered partial prints were identified as originating from the minor victim. There remained unidentified latent prints and a search through the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), did not return any results at that time. Likewise, the FBI Lab was successfully able to identify a suitable DNA profile at that time, but when compared to the FBI Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, no matches were detected.

In April 2004, the FBI Laboratory reported that a DNA profile generated from evidence from a different kidnapping / sexual assault of another minor female, which occurred in September 1988 in Hagerstown, Maryland, was a match to the DNA profile of the 1999 Cairnbrook, Pennsylvania kidnapping event. This match was made from the FBI CODIS database, but the identity of the perpetrator of these crimes was still unknown at that time.

Over the years, advancements were made to IAFIS and the new fingerprint identification system called Next Generation Identification system (NGI) came into existence.

In the Fall of 2018, the partial prints obtained from the brown paper bag and napkin were re-submitted to NGI to search for a possible match. NGI identified a possible match with a person identified as Timothy David Nelson. The FBI Laboratory subsequently confirmed the partial prints as a match to Timothy David Nelson, Jr., who was living in Maryland.

On January 7, 2019, an arrest warrant was issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charging Nelson with multiple offenses to include, but not limited to, Kidnapping and Aggravated Indecent Assault. Also, a federal search warrant was issued for Nelson’s DNA.

On January 8, 2019, Nelson arrived at the Cumberland (MD) City Police Department and the Pennsylvania arrest warrant and the federal DNA search warrant were executed. Subsequent forensic analysis proved that Nelson’s DNA was a match for the 1999 Cairnbrook kidnapping on September 19, 1999, as well as a match to two separate kidnappings/sexual assaults on minor females from 1988 and 1989 in Maryland.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Mr. Brady commended the Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Nelson.

Updated August 27, 2019

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