DNA links killing of Maryland hiker to Los Angeles home invasion

18 August 2023

BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — DNA evidence has linked the recent killing of a Maryland woman whose body was found near a hiking trail to a Los Angeles home invasion and assault of a girl earlier this year, authorities said.

Both cases remain unsolved. Detectives matched DNA collected from the crime scenes, but they haven’t identified the suspect yet. Following a news conference Thursday evening in Harford County northeast of Baltimore, authorities released surveillance footage and photos of the suspect from video captured while he was leaving the house that authorities said he broke into in March.

Rachel Morin, 37, left her home to go hiking the evening of Aug. 5 and never returned. Her boyfriend reported her missing later that night and her car was found near an entrance to a trail she frequented, officials have said.

Her body was discovered the following day after her disappearance was widely reported.

“We believe this was a person that Rachel probably didn’t know,” Col. William Davis with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said at the news conference, calling the killing a “potentially a random act of violence.”

Davis said law enforcement has no idea where the suspect is now.

He said DNA evidence recovered from Morin’s body matched another sample in a national law enforcement database, which is how detectives linked the two cases. Davis declined to provide additional details about the Los Angeles assault, saying only that the victim was a young girl.

Authorities said they hope someone will recognize the suspect from the surveillance footage and help detectives make an arrest.

In the meantime, Davis urged people to be careful in the area where Morin went missing. The sheriff’s office has ramped up patrols and Harford County officials announced earlier this week that cameras would soon be installed along the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail, which follows an old railroad through the county.

In an Aug. 10 Facebook post, Morin’s family asked for compassion and space to grieve. Morin leaves behind five children. Because she was an avid runner, the family said they’re hoping to plan a 5K in her honor.

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