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Police reports shed light on life of Janesville serial rapist

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Ted Sullivan
June 21, 2009
— When Michael Huber was arrested, he calmly sat in his dining room chair while police searched his home.

The only comment he made was asking whether he could smoke a cigarette before going to jail.


It was a surprising reaction considering police had just rammed their way into his home after a 10-year manhunt. They found him in his master bedroom holding his 5-month-old daughter.


Police didn’t know much about Janesville’s suspected serial rapist at the time, but they later interviewed Huber’s friends and family. They learned he was a burglar, gambler and womanizer with a temper and a taste for alcohol and drugs.


About 500 pages of police reports give insight into the life of the man police say haunted the city for nearly a decade.


Because of the serial rapist, families installed extra locks on their doors, and police began offering self-defense classes for women. Detectives racked up hundreds of hours of overtime staking out suspects, collecting DNA swabs from dozens of men and chasing leads across the country.


Huber was arrested in February 2008 after a computer matched his fingerprints on file from a previous burglary conviction to a single, small fingerprint found on a doorknob at what is believed to be the serial rapist’s first attack in Janesville—the assault of a 26-year-old woman in August 1998.


At the Gazette’s request, Janesville police released hundreds of pages of investigative reports after Huber pleaded guilty to six felony charges of first-degree sexual assault involving two victims. Police believe Huber committed all six home invasions.


The reports paint a picture of a man who could be both gentle and violent, calculating and mistake prone, friendly and angry.


Huber, 32, will be sentenced Friday. He and his wife refused to comment to the Gazette, and Huber’s parents didn’t return phone messages.


The following is based on police reports:


Huber is about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 200 pounds and has light hair and blue eyes. He was often described as muscular.


He enjoyed golf. For years he played poker with friends on Tuesdays or Fridays.


Huber smoked Marlboro Lights—switching from the stronger Marlboro reds—and held several jobs over the years.


He worked for Carpet One as a carpet installer, Wahls Appliance in Beloit as a deliveryman and Charter Cable.


He most recently worked eight years at B&D Concrete in Illinois and would get laid off in the winter.


The first sign of trouble in Huber’s life was when he and two students brought a handgun to Clinton High School. Huber was expelled in the incident, but his parents believed it was unfair.


He later dated a woman from 1993 to 1997. They lived together at Village Green apartments in Janesville and College Inn apartments in Beloit.


They frequently went to her family’s cabin near Lyndon Station.


Huber was fascinated with guns, she told police, and he stole them in burglaries.


He often told her about burglaries he committed. He once burglarized a body shop in Edgerton. He stole a lock box and pop machine keys.


A year later, she overheard a story at a card game about a man’s cousin interrupting a burglary at an Edgerton body shop. The burglar struck the man with a hammer. It is unknown whether Huber was the burglar.


Huber often shot guns he had stolen, but he eventually disposed of them. His ex-girlfriend told police she was with Huber when he threw guns into the Rock River near Newville.


The two used to camp after drinking at the Showboat bar in Rock Township. They would cross the river by the power plant and camp along a path near the river.


Huber might have buried a box with a stolen gun and wallet on one of their camping trips.


The woman broke up with Huber in 1997 after finding a Nike shoebox with women’s underwear inside. The underwear was not new, and she couldn’t remember his explanation for having it.


Huber’s wife told police the two had been together for 12 years. They met in October 1996 in her hometown of Black River Falls.


His wife graduated from high school in 1997 and moved to Rock County in 1999 to live with Huber.


They lived in Clinton with Huber’s parents for a couple months and later rented a home.


A friend of Huber’s told police Huber drank and went to bars before and after his future wife moved to Rock County. Huber often went to Jumbos, the Carom Room or the Pitcher’s Mound.


The friend said Huber was promiscuous and had been with other women while living with his future wife. He said he didn’t know if Huber cheated on her after they were married in May 2006.


Huber’s wife never thought her husband had slept with other women. She also wasn’t aware of his history of committing burglaries. She thought the only time he got into trouble was for having marijuana.


When asked how Huber reacts when he’s angry, Huber’s wife told police he says, “F--- you, b----,” and then drives around and smokes cigarettes.


After his arrest, Huber told investigators he thought police might have been after him for lying on his unemployment forms.


Huber admitted to burglaries in Janesville during the day and night. He also had been arrested for committing burglaries in Jackson County near Black River Falls.


He denied sexually assaulting women. He asked to know the names and locations of the sexual assault victims, but he was not given that information.


He insisted the DNA evidence would clear him, but DNA and fingerprint later tied him to two rapes.


Huber claimed the DNA results were false when confronted with the evidence, but his demeanor changed.


He was put on suicide watch in the Rock County Jail.


Police reports detail a decade of home invasions, rapes

Michael Huber woke her, held her down and covered her face with a pillow.


“I will shoot you and the baby,” he told the woman.


He told her to sit on her hands.


He unzipped his pants.


He removed her clothes.


He raped her, stole her wallet and fled.


The Aug. 3, 1998, crime was the first in what police believe was six Janesville home invasions or rapes Huber committed from 1998 to 2005.


It also was the offense where Huber, 32, made a mistake that would lead to his arrest nearly 10 years later.


Hundreds of pages of investigative police reports were released at the Gazette’s request after Huber pleaded guilty to six felony charges of first-degree sexual assault involving two victims.


The reports reveal a man with a distinct pattern of behavior in his crimes.


He entered the homes of single women, threatened them with weapons and put pillows or pillow cases over their heads.


He stole or disabled their phones, demanded money and pretended to talk with accomplices.


Yet he was sometimes gentle and willing to comply with victims’ requests, including wearing a condom for one victim.


The following is based on police reports:


Aug. 3, 1998

The first rape involved a woman in the 1800 block of South Willard Avenue who had gone to sleep at 9:45 p.m. after leaving work and getting her daughter.


While she slept, Huber used a screwdriver to pry into her garage. He then entered her home.


She awoke to a silhouette of Huber standing near her bed. She sat up and asked, “What do you want?” Huber called her by her first name. He also knew she had a baby.


Huber wore something over his head. He might have had a gun.


He couldn’t become aroused at first. The woman asked him to leave if he was having trouble. Huber became angry. Then he raped her.


Huber wore no condom or gloves. He had rough hands. He smelled of leather and cigarettes.


His voice sounded unusual. The woman thought he was disguising it. He said this was new to him.


Huber stole her wallet, compact discs and a new outfit for the woman’s baby.


The woman was taken to Mercy Hospital in Janesville. Semen was recovered from her body. It was stored for DNA evidence. Police didn’t have a match.


July 9, 1999

A 23-year-old woman was at the Pitcher’s Mound in Beloit, a bar Huber frequented with friends.


The woman also had worked at the bar.


She and her friend left alone at 2 a.m. in separate cars. They had talked to men that night, but nothing unusual occurred.


The woman returned to her home in the 2100 block of South Oakhill Avenue. She let her dog out the patio door, left the door open and then showered and went to bed.


After sleeping a short time, a man awoke her. He put a pillow over her head and made her tie a T-shirt around her eyes.


He demanded money and an ATM card. He said he had a knife and gun. If she didn’t cooperate, he said was going to kill her.


The suspect then asked her if she had been raped before. The woman begged him to use a condom. She had condoms in her dresser drawer.


The man put on a condom and then raped her.


Afterward, it was quiet. She ripped the shirt off her head and saw no one.


She jumped out her bedroom window naked and ran to a neighbor’s house for help.


Her phones and purse were stolen.


It was later learned the victim’s sister had invited Huber to their home years earlier.


The victim’s sister, who dabbled in drug use, would have friends over, including Huber.


She recalled that Huber was “obsessed” with the victim. He apparently wanted to date her.


Huber’s ex-girlfriend also recalled Huber wanting her to become friends with the victim. He wanted them to have a threesome.


The victim’s sister also was a friend of the victim in the first case, and she had worked with the victim in the fourth case.


But she wasn’t sure if she was the mutual connection among Huber and the women.


Oct. 14, 2000

A 33-year-old woman walked into the bedroom, turned on the light and saw a man standing near her closet.


She screamed.


“Shut the f--- up,” he told her, holding a knife.


The woman had been sleeping in the living room of her home in the 2000 block of Green Valley Drive. Her two children, ages 7 and 2, were with her.


She awoke at 4:30 a.m. and was putting her kids in bed when she found the intruder. He had a T-shirt over his head.


He told her to lock her two children in the bathroom. He also demanded money, an ATM card and car keys. He used excessive profanity.


He said his “brothers” from Michigan were waiting outside.


The woman tried to shut herself in the bathroom with her children.


The intruder got angry and said, “B----, you’re not listening.”


While in the bathroom, the woman saw her cordless phone.


But the man had her follow him to the bedroom. On the way, she quickly returned to the bathroom and tossed the phone to her son.


“You know what to do,” she told her son.


While her son dialed 911, the suspect yelled outside, “Dudes, dudes, there is nothing in here, let’s get the hell out of here.”


He then fled.


May 8, 2001

A 31-year-old woman was asleep in her bedroom in the 200 block of Brakefield Drive when she heard a man say, “Don’t roll over. Where’s your money?”


“Oh God,” she responded.


It was 2:17 a.m. Her daughter was asleep in another room. The woman was terrified. She told him her purse was on the desk. The man took it.


He talked as if to another person during the invasion, but she felt he wanted her to believe a second man was there.


The intruder told her to lie on her back and cover her face with pillows. He lifted her shirt, but she pushed his hand away.


“Do what I say and your daughter won’t get hurt,” he told her.


The woman said, “Please don’t, my daughter is in the next room,” and she asked him to close her daughter’s bedroom door.


The man left and never returned.


She called police.


The woman told investigators she didn’t notice anyone following her, but the intruder knew she had a daughter.


Three days after the assault, Janesville police called a press conference to announce the rape was connected to August 1998 and July 1999. They had not yet connected the October 2000 case to the others.


Aug. 20, 2003

A 13-year-old-girl was staying at her grandma’s for the first time in months when Huber invaded the home.


The girl and her grandma, 73, were sleeping in the same bed at 3:08 a.m. when Huber invaded the home in 3700 block of Park View Drive.


“I’ll kill you if you talk,” he told the grandma, claiming he had a gun.


He put a pillow over her face and then shined a flashlight on the girl.


Huber asked about money, credit cards and jewelry. He became angry because the grandma had nothing valuable.


He claimed he had three people with him, but no one else was seen or heard.


The girl woke and began crying. Huber put a pillowcase over her head. He then took her to the living room and raped her on the floor.


Huber took a few drinks from a Mountain Dew bottle in the refrigerator. He made the girl take a drink, too. He also made her shower.


Huber fled the home with a purse, wallet and car keys.


During the rape, a General Motors employee told police he saw a red Pontiac Grand Am parked near the home. He drove the route daily and had never seen it before. Police later learned Huber had a red Grand Am at the time.


July 27, 2005

A 37-year-old woman woke with a gun in her face. She thought she might get sexually assaulted.


“I have an STD,” she yelled.


The man believed her and didn’t rape her.


However, he asked her to drop her pants so he could look.


The woman became upset and cried. She told the man she was nervous. She said she might have an accident with diarrhea. She refused to pull her pants down.


The intruder allowed her to keep her clothes on.


The man made her put two pillowcases over her head. He claimed he had a gun. He wanted money and credit cards. He also asked for marijuana or beer.


He asked her about her laptop computer. She requested he not take it because she needed it for work. He didn’t steal it.


She told him she had $60 in cash. She also had $500 in cash in a kitchen drawer, but she didn’t tell him about it.


He walked her into a different room. He told her to sit down. He allowed her to smoke. He also smoked one or two of her cigarettes.


She engaged him in conversation.


The woman was from Texas and living in the 2100 block of Green Valley Drive while on a long-term project for GM. She had lived in Janesville less than a year. She planned on being gone in six months.


He claimed he was from Georgia and had done prison time. He also said his mother was an alcoholic and had various boyfriends who beat him up.


He told her he had done hundreds of these crimes. He said he had a few women who wouldn’t stop screaming, but they stopped after he hit them.


The woman thought he was telling her this information so she would repeat it to police.


The man left her in the bathroom. She waited several minutes until he was gone.


He got away with money, a camera and phones.


She drove to TA express and called police.


The day after this assault, police announced the October 2000 case was connected to the others.


Feb. 23, 2008

Huber was arrested nearly 10 years after the first home invasion.


Police took him into custody after the FBI matched his fingerprint from a previous burglary conviction to a fingerprint left on the doorknob in the first rape case.


No fingerprints were found in the other five cases.


Huber initially denied raping women.


His DNA was later matched to the DNA taken from semen in two of the rapes.


When confronted with the evidence, Huber claimed the DNA results were false, but his demeanor changed.


He pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault charges involving the two victims linked to his DNA.


Huber will be sentenced Friday.


CRIME CONNECTIONS

Michael Huber has been convicted in connection with only two of the six home invasion incidents, but police believe he committed all six because of the following common elements:


-- Late night entry to the home of a single sleeping female who was alone or with small children.


-- The threat of a gun, knife or both.


-- Putting a pillow or pillowcase over the faces of the victims.


-- Disabling or stealing the victims’ phones.


-- Demanding money, credit cards or ATM cards with PIN numbers.


-- Completing, initiating or implying a sexual assault of the victims.


-- Controlling victims through words or threats.


-- Suggesting an accomplice is with him in four of the cases by pretending to speak to others who are not heard or sensed by the victim.


-- Gentle or non-violent sexual contact in three cases.


-- A willingness to negotiate with his victims in four cases.


-- Remaining in the victims’ homes for 20 minutes or more in five cases.


-- A fingerprint from a doorknob and DNA evidence from vaginal linked to one man, Michael Huber.


HUBER’S CRIMINAL HISTORY

October 1993: Huber, 17, is expelled from Clinton High School and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a firearm on school property after he and two students bring a .25-caliber pistol to the high school.


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


All three students are expelled.


Huber is waived into adult court, and Rock County officials agree to a plea agreement, dropping the charge of possessing a firearm in a school zone.


Huber pleads no contest to the concealed weapon charge. He is sentenced to two years probation.


November 1993: Huber is charged with burglary and two counts of theft after police say he stole a handgun and several coins from a Clinton Township home. All three charges later are dismissed.


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


Huber pleads guilty to one count of burglary and is sentenced to five years of intensive supervision. Other crimes are dismissed.


OTHER SUSPECTS

In nearly 10 years of investigating the serial rape case, police pursued but eventually rejected several solid suspects:


-- A man was stalking the first victim and harassing her boyfriend. The man knew details about the victim’s life, but she didn’t know him. He seemed to track her. He had a newspaper clipping picturing her. He also gave the victim’s co-worker an Easter card to pass on. Police got his DNA, and he was eliminated as a suspect.


-- A woman who was good friends with the second victim thought her ex-boyfriend might have done the rape. Her ex-boyfriend had broken into her home and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. He also matched the description of the rapist. Two investigators traveled to Oregon to get the man’s DNA. His DNA cleared him as a suspect.


-- The victim in the sixth case overhead a man’s voice at the Janesville FedEx office less than a week after her attack. She had talked with her home invader for 20 minutes and thought she could recognize his voice. She believed the man was her attacker. She recorded the man’s license-plate number and reported it to police. Investigators followed the lead and found the man. He refused to give police his DNA. He also couldn’t provide details about his whereabouts on the night of the attack. Police got a warrant for the man’s DNA. He was eliminated as a suspect.


-- The victim in the fourth case was a bartender. She was suspicious that her attacker might have been a former neighbor and patron of her bar. She had seen him the day before her attack. The first of the six victims knew the same man. Police collected the man’s DNA off a beer bottle he left at a bar. The man’s DNA was not a match, but a crime lab worker thought it was so close to the rapist’s DNA that it could be a relative. Investigators strongly pursued that lead and searched for the man’s brother and cousins. Crime lab workers later reviewed the DNA a second time. They said the man’s DNA was not similar to the rapist’s DNA. Police quit pursuing his family members.



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