Nearly 20 years after he raped a 26-year-old Temple Hills woman, beat the back of her head and then cut her throat, Theodore R. Reed stood before a judge in Upper Marlboro yesterday to face the reckoning for his crime.

Reed, now 48, pleaded guilty May 27 to attempted murder and first-degree rape for the Oct. 2, 1985, crime. Clad in an orange jail jumpsuit, Reed remained mute when Circuit Court Judge Graydon S. McKee III asked whether he had anything to say before the sentence was announced.

McKee sentenced him to 32 years in prison, a term prosecutors and Reed's defense attorney worked out in a plea bargain. As McKee read the sentence, tears fell from Reed's eyes, said Assistant State's Attorney Donine Gaynor.

Reed's victim, now 46, stood and hugged Maj. Linda A. Dixon of the Prince George's County police, whose persistence solved the case after two decades.

"I think she's relieved that he's no longer on the street, that she or someone else can't be victimized by him," Dixon said of Reed's victim, who declined to speak to reporters. The Washington Post does not generally identify rape victims.

In the fall of 1985, Dixon was the sex crimes unit investigator who was assigned to the Temple Hills case. Because of its level of brutality, Dixon was consumed with finding the rapist and worked 20-hour days for weeks before leads dried up.

Dixon moved on to other cases and progressed up the career ladder to major, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the department.

Before she left the sex crimes squad, Dixon copied the file on the Temple Hills case -- two cardboard boxes filled with documents -- and held on to them. She kept in contact with the victim and periodically checked on possible leads.

In late 2003, Dixon ran into William F. Greene, an evidence technician who had worked on the Temple Hills case. The subject of DNA testing came up; it is a tool that was not available in 1985.

Dixon asked the county police lab to run a test on the rape evidence. In September, the lab came up with a hit: The DNA profile of the attacker matched Reed's, which was in the statewide database. Reed has spent the past 20 years in and out of jail or prison.

"The work of the major is outstanding," State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said after the sentencing. "This is like something after a TV show, that she could stick with a case for two decades."

The victim recovered from her physical wounds. She is married, has a child and lives in the Washington area, officials said. Reed got married two days after the rape, a union which ended in divorce, Dixon said.

McKee told Reed that he has the right to ask the judge to reconsider his sentence. If Reed did so, McKee said, he would sentence Reed to life in prison.

Prince George's County police Maj. Linda A. Dixon speaks to reporters after Reed's sentencing as State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey looks on.Theodore R. Reed, now 48, shown in a 1985 police photo.