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Police seeking victims of cold case molester

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque cold case detectives are looking for victims of the “Mid-School Molester,” so named more than 20 years ago after a series of sexual assaults near McKinley Middle School on Comanche NE.

The assaults took place in the 1980s and early 1990s, mainly against McKinley students and other young women in the area. Police have linked the attacks to Joseph Raymond Blea, 56, who was arrested in 2009 on domestic violence charges and has been in custody since then. He has now been linked to five rape victims – four young women in the McKinley area and one young relative. He allegedly assaulted the young relative starting when she was 13, until she was 16 and threatened to go to police.

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz is asking possible victims to come forward.

“We feel very strongly that there are more victims,” Schultz said. He added that anyone who knows about an attack that might be connected to Blea should contact police.

“Sometimes victims will be reluctant to come forward, but will confide in friends or relatives,” he said.

Blea’s DNA was collected after his 2009 domestic violence arrest and was linked to DNA evidence from the 1988 rape of a 13-year-old girl as she went home from school. Police held a news conference about that connection in 2010, which prompted three more victims to come forward. DNA evidence has since connected attacks against those three women to Blea.

Last week, a grand jury indicted Blea on nine counts of criminal sexual penetration and four counts of kidnapping. All charges are first-degree felonies, which carry a basic sentence of 18 years and could expose Blea to a total of 234 years in prison.

Schultz said police believe Blea generally wore gray clothing and a ski mask when he attacked victims, and was usually armed with a knife. After attacks, Blea would allegedly steal victims’ underwear, Schultz said.

Cold case detective Rich Lewis said police hope DNA can help link Blea to more cases, even if victims’ memories have faded in the decades since the attacks. If victims went to a hospital and got a rape kit examination after they were attacked, those rape kits should still be intact and APD will be able to test the DNA against Blea’s, Lewis said.

Anyone with information about other victims should call 924-6095.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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