Janesville30.5°

Rape suspect arrested

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Mike DuPre'
February 25, 2008
— A partial fingerprint from a 1998 crime scene led to the arrest Saturday of a Janesville man and sparked police hope that they have solved the six home invasions that became known as the city’s “serial rape case.”

Michael R. Huber, 31, of 2133 Ontario Drive, was arrested without resistance at his home at 9:15 p.m. Saturday on preliminary charges of second-degree sexual assault and burglary in connection with the rape Aug. 3, 1998, of a 26-year-old Janesville woman in her home.


Besides the arrest, Janesville police executed a search warrant to collect DNA samples from Huber. Police have DNA evidence in two of the crimes, including the 1998 rape, Chief Neil Mahan said this morning.


Huber’s DNA samples were sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory in Madison this morning, Mahan said, and it could take weeks for analysis and to determine if there is a match between Huber’s DNA and that collected at crime scenes.


While the process could take weeks, Mahan hopes to get results within two weeks.


The FBI recently informed local investigators of the fingerprint match.


The Wisconsin State Crime Lab had the evidence of the partial print since 1998, but neither Mahan nor detective Martin Altstadt would blame the lab for the delay in matching the partial print to Huber.


They noted that technology has advanced in the 9½ years since the initial crimes and that analysis of partial fingerprints is an inexact science, often dependent on an analyst’s skill and experience.


“We’re very pleased that we now have this definitive piece of evidence,” Mahan said.


In November, Altstadt and detective Erik Goth visited FBI headquarters to ask for the agency’s help in solving what Mahan termed a cold case. The FBI asked the investigators to forward to the agency the evidence in the case, Altstadt said.


When the analysis came back, local investigators found that the print matched a Janesville resident who has a history of burglaries, Mahan said.


And Huber matches the general description of the rapist, the chief said.


According to court records, Huber’s criminal history includes:


-- October 1993: Huber at age 17 was expelled from Clinton High School and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a firearm on school property after he and two students brought a .25-caliber pistol to the high school, according to court records.


Huber told police he bought the handgun for personal protection because he was being hassled at school. He also said he intended to sell the gun so he could make a payment on his truck.


All three students were expelled.


Huber was waived into adult court, and Rock County officials agreed to a plea agreement, dropping the charge of possessing a firearm in a school zone. Huber pleaded no contest to the concealed weapon charge. Huber was sentenced to two years probation, fined $200 and ordered do 200 hours of community service work.


-- November 1993: Huber was charged with burglary and two counts of theft after police said he stole a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, two latches and several coins from a Clinton Township home. All three charges later were dismissed.


-- July 1995: Huber was charged in Jackson County with several burglaries and thefts.


Huber pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and was sentenced to five years of intensive supervision. Dismissed were eight counts of theft, one count of burglary, one count of criminal damage to property and one count of possession of burglary tools.


Besides the 1998 rape, the so-called serial rapist invaded Janesville homes and assaulted women in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005, the latest of the known crimes.


Police think the crimes are linked, but Mahan said this morning: “We are not suggesting now that we have probable cause to make an arrest in the other cases.”


Janesville’s serial rape case, once considered possibly linked to Madison’ string of mall rapes, is not connected to that case, Altstadt said.


Police are investigating a possible connection to the attack on a woman on the Janesville bike trail.


The Janesville rape victims have been told of Huber’s arrest, but none so far has been asked to identify him or look at photo lineups, Mahan said.


Whether they will be asked to do so has not been decided because all the rapes occurred at night, in darkened room and with the assailant’s face at least partially obscured, the chief said.


In each case, the rapist threatened violence with a knife or gun, but none of the women was wounded beyond the trauma of the sexual assault, the police said.


Police recovered no weapons when they arrested Huber. He refused to come to the door, so police had to force their way into his locked home Saturday night, Altstadt said.


Huber is expected in court this afternoon.


SERIAL RAPIST INCIDENTS

Investigators have been trying for 9½ years to identify Janesville’s serial rapist believed responsible for six incidents:


Aug. 3, 1998: A 26-year-old woman is raped in her home in the 1800 block of South Willard Avenue.


July 9, 1999: A 23-year-old woman is raped in her home in the 2100 block of South Oakhill Avenue.


Oct. 14, 2000: A 33-year-old woman putting her two children to bed at 4 a.m. finds a man standing in the bedroom of their home in the 2000 block of Green Valley Drive. The man flees after the woman tosses a cordless phone to her 7-year-old son and tells him to call 911.


May 8, 2001: A woman sleeping in her home in the 200 block of Brakefield Drive is awakened by a man who lifts her shirt but doesn’t touch her. The man leaves after the woman asks him to close her 8-year-old daughter’s bedroom door.


Aug. 20, 2003: A teenage Janesville girl sleeping overnight at her grandmother’s home on Parkview Drive is raped by a man who breaks into the home.


July 27, 2005: A man wakes a 37-year-old woman in the 2100 block of Green Valley Drive at about 3 a.m. and threatens her with a handgun. Unlike most of the earlier incidents, the woman is not sexually assaulted.



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