Janesville77.1°

Cash bond set, DNA match found in serial rape case

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Mike DuPre'
February 27, 2008
— DNA apparently links rape suspect Michael Huber to two of the six home invasions in Janesville’s so-called serial rape case, but three of the incidents are beyond the state statute of limitations.

Huber was arrested Saturday after the FBI matched his fingerprints to prints at the scene of a 1998 home invasion and rape. Janesville police learned Tuesday that Huber’s DNA matches DNA from a 2003 home invasion and rape, and police say DNA from the 2003 and 1998 cases match each other.


Huber so far is charged only in the 1998 incident based on the fingerprint evidence. Local investigators were to head back to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory in Madison this morning to get confirmation that Huber’s DNA matches DNA from the 1998 rape.


Additional official confirmation of a DNA match to the 2003 case will lead prosecutors to file charges in that incident, assistant district attorney Mary Bricco said in court Tuesday.


At a press conference this morning, Police Chief Neil Mahan said investigators have DNA evidence from only the 1998 and 2003 assaults, but police are convinced that Huber committed all the crimes because of the intruder’s specific method of operation.


“The other cases are linked by a specific method of operation, a specific method of entry,” detective Erik Goth said. “And there were things that were said. It’s almost a signature crime.”


FBI behavioral analysts also think that one person committed the six crimes, Goth said.


But because there is no DNA evidence in three of the older cases—and it’s not likely that any DNA evidence can now be found—Wisconsin’s statute of limitations might preclude charging Huber with those crimes, Mahan said.


The statute of limitation is six years for burglary and first-degree sexual assault, the chief explained, but DNA evidence in sexual assault cases opens the statute of limitations indefinitely.


Mahan said police would confer with the district attorney’s office to see what could be done in the home invasions and assaults that occurred in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Police have DNA evidence in the 1998 and 2003 crimes. The 2005 home invasion, which did not include a sexual assault, falls within the statute of limitations, Mahan said.


Police have not yet arrested Huber in any of the other crimes.


In court Tuesday, Bricco argued for a high cash bond for Huber, 31, of 2133 Ontario Drive, Janesville.


Court Commissioner Charles Holznecht set a cash bond of $110,000—$100,000 on a charge of first-degree sexual assault and $10,000 on a charge of burglary.


Through his attorney—Bill Hayes of Beloit—Huber requested a preliminary hearing. Holznecht scheduled the hearing for 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 5.


Huber remained in custody this morning at the Rock County Jail. If Huber can post bond, he must wear a real-time GPS monitoring device, according to a bond condition set by Holznecht.


The charges against Huber stem from the rape of a Janesville woman, now 36, by an intruder who awakened her around midnight Aug. 2, 1998.


The sexual assault in 1998 was the first in what Janesville police think is a string of six connected crimes, the last of which was in July 2005 in the 2100 block of Green Valley Drive.


In the 2003 case, a teenage girl sleeping at her grandmother’s home was raped by an intruder Aug. 20.


Police said the assailant’s DNA was the same in both the 1998 and 2003 cases, and the district attorney’s office plans to file more charges against Huber when it gets official written notification from the crime lab that Huber’s DNA matches the 2003 case, Bricco told the court.


“It was a very quick, down-and-dirty test,” District Attorney David O’Leary said of the match that the crime lab found between Huber’s DNA and that from the 2003 crime.


“Formal testing could take a couple of days; it could take a couple of weeks,” he said.


Authorities anticipate getting the same quick match from the 1998 DNA that they got from the 2003 evidence.


Huber previously was convicted of burglary in Jackson County and was released from prison shortly before the home invasion and rape in 1998, Bricco said.


The FBI informed Janesville police Friday that fingerprints found at the 1998 crime scene matched Huber’s prints, according to the criminal complaint against him.


Huber was arrested Saturday.


Since Huber’s arrest, police contacted all six victims. The three whose cases fall outside the statute of limitations had trouble accepting that the crimes committed against them probably would not be prosecuted, detective Martin Altstadt said.


But what they really wanted to be assured of was that the man who assaulted them had been caught, Altstadt added.


Four of the six victims cried when they learned of Huber’s arrest, and the other two were exhilarated, Altstadt said.


News of the arrest brought great relief to the victims, who for years wondered if a man they saw at the store was the man who had crept into their bedrooms, threatened them and in some cases their children and then assaulted them, Mahan said.


“For them, each time they put their head down at night, they knew that the person who broke into their homes in the early-morning hours is not in custody. They felt that they are not safe, that their families are not safe,” Mahan said.


“The six women who are victims in this case are very strong individuals,” Altstadt said, adding that they have been on an emotional rollercoaster because investigators would tell them of new leads and suspects.



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