Montgomery detectives make arrests in decades-old rape cases with DNA

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2010; 8:51 PM

Montgomery County detectives have made arrests in rape cases dating to 1981 and 1984, officials said Monday, by tracking down suspects through DNA samples taken from decades-old evidence.

One of the suspects, Hubert Allan Marlin, 53, was arrested in Bethesda over the weekend after spending parts of the past 26 years in Michigan, Oregon and Texas, a police spokesman said. Detectives received a tip about where he was staying in Bethesda. They staked out a parked car and arrested Marlin as he tried to get in the vehicle, said Cpl. Dan Friz, a police spokesman.

The second suspect, Joseph Nickens, 54, was picked up by officers in Los Angeles on Nov. 3. Montgomery police flew to California to retrieve him, and by Monday morning he was booked into the county jail, Friz said.

Detectives credited a federal grant that is allowing them to use old evidence for new DNA tests.

"That's becoming our bread and butter," said Detective Ed Golian of Montgomery's cold-case squad.

It is unclear whether Marlin or Nickens have retained attorneys.

In the 1984 case, according to police, a man approached a woman who was walking home from her job at Montgomery Mall at 10 p.m. He beat and raped her near Democracy Boulevard and Old Georgetown Road. A passing motorist took the woman to a hospital.

Detectives investigated but ran out of leads.

Earlier this year, investigators sent evidence away for DNA testing. The results were uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System database, which yielded a match to Marlin, who had given a DNA sample for previous legal trouble, Friz said.

Montgomery detectives tracked him down with the help of a law enforcement officer in Oregon, officials said.

Marlin was arrested without incident Sunday near Pooks Hill Road in Bethesda. He was charged with one count of first-degree rape, one count of assault with intent to maim and one count of assault with intent to rape, police said.

He was charged with rape and burglary and was being held Monday in the county jail.

The other rape occurred at 4 a.m. April 20, 1981.

Police say a man broke into an apartment in the 17000 block of King James Way in Gaithersburg, threatened a woman living there with a knife and raped her. A recent DNA test matched Nickens's. He was tracked to Los Angeles, where he was no stranger to law enforcement.

"They knew the guy," Golian said. "They made quick work of him."

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