DNA, new fingerprint technology led authorities to Cairnbrook kidnapping suspect

January 11, 2019

For 20 years state police Trooper Jeff Brock carried a photo of a 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped in 1999 while playing with friends.

During a press conference Thursday at the state police barracks in Somerset, Brock struggled to hold back his emotions while talking about how he was finally able to make an arrest.

Fifty-year-old Timothy David Nelson Jr., Mullen Street, Cumberland, Maryland, was arraigned Thursday morning on charges of kidnapping, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful restraint, statutory sexual assault and other related misdemeanors. He is in the Somerset County Jail in lieu of a $750,000 bond.

“It’s not about me,” Brock told reporters at the press conference. “It is about bringing closure to the girls. They move on, they live their lives. I just had a hard time believing they weren’t thinking: ‘Where did he ever go? Is he still alive?’

“By getting to this point, now they do know.”

On Sept. 19, 1999, the 10-year-old girl was abducted in Cairnbrook. Police said Nelson fled south on Route 160. During the trip he produced a gun and threatened the girl. He stopped along the side of the road and sexually assaulted the girl, according to police.

The vehicle eventually stopped again along Route 26 in West Virginia. Nelson allegedly forced the girl into sex acts. He abandoned her along the road, where she was found by a passing motorist.

State police in Uniontown returned to the scene and collected paper bags that had been thrown from the vehicle. DNA and fingerprints were collected from the bags. At that time the DNA did not match anyone in law enforcement databases.

After years of investigating, police were hitting a stone wall.

“Information came back in 2004 that the DNA profile actually matched other cases prior to ours,” Trooper Steve Limani said. “A young girl was kidnapped and subsequently raped.”

Brock said that he contacted the FBI to see if anything additional could be done. An agent used advanced technology to compare the fingerprints, and Nelson was a match, according to court documents.

“We are here because of her,” Brock said of the FBI agent. “She said I am going to check these prints one more time.”

Brock recalled the agent calling him with the news. She first asked if he was sitting down.

“She said we got a hit on the prints,” he said.

Brock said he notified the woman, but he declined to elaborate on the exchange.

“This is going to be very difficult opening up wounds and it’s going to be hard for them,” Brock said. “In the end, it’s the closure. If I helped with that, it’s all worth it.”

Nelson’s DNA also matched DNA from two unsolved kidnappings from 1988 in Hagerstown, Maryland, according to police. Limani said they are not ruling out that he may be involved in other cases.

He said that, in his experience, individuals do not stop committing these types of crimes unless they experience a significant life event. He said Nelson did not have any type of lifestyle change.

“That is concerning,” he said. “There are several years of inactivity, and that is one of the things we’re concerned about.”

Limani said police have not been able to interview Nelson as he works to obtain an attorney.

Nelson’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Jan. 23 before District Judge Bill Seger of Windber.

Limani said the FBI will likely be taking over the case. He said that law enforcement agencies that have similar unsolved cases should contact their local FBI agent.

Update hourly