At a press conference early this month, Alabama officials shared a startling discovery — they finally knew the name of a serial rapist linked to at least three sexual assaults in Alabama and Colorado. The ID of the rapist, had puzzled authorities for decades. 

The crimes were committed between 1991 and 2004. In each instance, the rapist had a weapon, a knife or a gun, he used to threaten his victims. Detectives didn’t have a lot of physical evidence to make an arrest. 

However, a genealogy search was credited as the key to unlocking the Alabama rapist’s identity. After unmasking him, even the scientists on the case admitted of feeling stumped. 

“This was unique. We definitely had to dig in to his life more to see why he might have been at these locations. So, when we discovered that it was because he was involved in children’s music, camps and competitions, it was horrifying…” said CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs. 


Elliott Higgins was linked to the rapes through a DNA sample, the lab matched to relatives of his. The revelation sent shock waves throughout the community. How could a man like him — a talented French horn musician, a family man, a camp director, devoted husband and father rape women? 

 CeCe Moore called Higgins ‘unique,’ she explained he didn’t have ties to the community where he committed his crimes. 

The Alabama police formed a joined task force with El Paso, Colorado police, building a case against the rapist. In all three crimes, Higgins prayed on innocent women using his ‘clean cut’ image to lure them away and assault them. 

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“These types of people are compelled to assault, compelled to re-offend,” he said. “He was at least a disciplined offender in and of that he wouldn’t do this near where he lived or resided. He wouldn’t do this against a victim that would be might be able to recognize him or know him,” said Captain Jack Kennedy with the TCSO Violent Crimes Unit. 

He cautioned that there maybe more victims.  The police department encourages other victims to come forward. 

“Hopefully, they can come forward and we can share with them. Let them know this is who it was. He’s no longer out there. He’s no longer a danger to you or anyone else right now. He may have died, but he didn’t get away. We know who he is,” said Kennedy. “We never gave up on this case. It was always considered to be important to us.” He said. 

Unfortunately, Higgins died in 2014 at the age of 73. He won’t be able to stand trial for his crimes. 

Addressing the case, Kennedy said, “I also want this to be a message to anyone who wants to assault women in our community that we don’t give up on these cases and no matter what happens we are going to keep working them until we identify who you are.” 

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Press Conference

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By Jolene Grace

Jolene Grace was a journalist for ten years, interning for CBS evening news, working as a beat report for Oklahoma Public radio, and eventually transitioning into managing digital content for a radio corporation. Currently, she writes crime fiction full time and blogs for the Crime Room. Jolene is fortunate enough to be able to tell the stories of those who no longer can. She’s passionate to write about cold cases being solved. You can read her blogs on thecrimeroom.com or listen to The Crime Room Podcast wherever in the world you happened to be. Let’s Talk Crime.

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