Police in California have used DNA evidence from two decades ago to connect a 52-year-old man to a series of sexual assaults -- a breakthrough that might also hold the answer to a murder mystery that has flummoxed authorities for nearly a quarter-century.
Twice in 1999, in the city of Visalia -- located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco --18-year-olds reported that an armed man who concealed his face with a piece of clothing had sexually assaulted them.
Police collected DNA evidence that tied the crimes together, and showed that the same man had also committed sexual battery on a third victim in 2002, and might have been involved in five more incidents, authorities said, according to Fresno ABC station KFSN.
But the suspect was never identified.
That changed this week.
Police arrested 52-year-old Nickey Stane in the sexual assault and battery cases, authorities said at a press conference Friday. He was caught after he allegedly used a recording device to view someone in the bathroom without their knowledge.
"Nickey Stane is every woman's nightmare," Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said. "He appears to be a regular person and he is a sexual predator who has terrorized women throughout this valley."
Stane is also the "primary suspect" in the 1996 murder and rape of Debbie Dorian, but has not yet been charged and authorities are still gathering evidence, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Dorian's body was found by her father. She had been bound, gagged, and raped, according to Dyer.
DNA found at the scene was a match to DNA in one of the sexual assaults in Visalia, according to police.
The DNA from Visalia was collected at a bus stop, where a woman said a man wearing a hood took out a gun and told her he would kill her if she ran, according to KSFN. He then fondled her breasts and walked away.
Police have charged Stane in that case and two others, according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty to the eight felony charges he faces, including sexual battery by restraint and kidnapping to commit another crime.
“”Nickey Stane is every woman's nightmare.
Dyer applauded the judge's handling the case for not allowing Stane to be released.
The technology used in Stane's case was the same technology used to catch the Golden State Killer.
Stane faces more than 70 years to life in prison if convicted of the eight felony charges in Tulare County. He's currently being held at the Tulare County jail with no bail.
It was not immediately clear if he has retained a lawyer.