DNA Links Prominent Music Teacher To 3 Unsolved Sex Assaults, More Victims Possible Nationwide, Authorities Say
An accomplished French horn player died in 2014, but police say DNA evidence has linked the New Mexico teacher to multiple decades-old unsolved sexual assaults in Alabama and Colorado.
Elliott Higgins died at the age of 73 in 2014 and was known in Jemez Springs as the longtime director of the Hummingbird Music Camp for young musicians, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
According to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, DNA evidence recently linked Higgins to two rapes in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, and a third assault in Colorado Springs.
In 1976, Higgins founded the International Horn Competition that held events throughout the country. The two Alabama rapes coincided with the times Higgins, who served a judge for the music competition, was in the state for the 1991 and 2001 competitions.
Capt. Jack Kennedy, a detective with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, said genetic testing showed that one man was responsible for the three attacks that took place in Alabama and Colorado between 1991 and 2004.
After using genetic testing on Higgins’ biological relatives, they were able to identify him as the attacker with a 99.999% probability, Kennedy said.
In October 2021, detectives got a break in the case when when a private laboratory tested DNA collected from the 1991 rape of a University of Alabama student.
The DNA from a sexual assault kit in the case ended up matching blood evidence from a 2004 attempted rape that took place in Colorado Springs.
In the 2004 case, Kennedy said the attacker was “a little bit older, maybe had some health problems, and produced a handgun.” He added, “The victim in that case fought him for an extended period of time and actually either busted his lip or nose.”
Authorities were able to use the blood from the woman’s clothing and carpet to match the DNA from the 1991 Tuscaloosa rape kit.
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Detectives then started to recognize similarities between the attack in Colorado Springs and a rape case from 2001 in Tuscaloosa, including the descriptions of the attacker and composite drawings.
For the 2001 case, Kennedy said a man arranged by phone to view a property and ended up raping the real estate agent.
Higgins was known to be in Tuscaloosa during both the 1991 and 2001 attacks. Kennedy said, “Both of our sexual assaults occurred the week that that competition was in town.”
The DNA findings have been sent to the FBI and law enforcement agencies in the communities that hosted the horn competition back to the 1970s, but Higgins has not been linked to more sexual assaults cases so far, according to Kennedy.
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