Subscribe to the Journal, call 505-823-4400

          Front Page

DNA Connects Man To '88 Rape

By Rozanna M. Martinez
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer

          More than 20 years ago, they dubbed him the Mid School Rapist.
        Albuquerque police were investigating a string of assaults on young girls that occurred in the area near McKinley Middle School in the late 1980s.
        Now they have charged Joseph Raymond Blea, 53, with at least one of those rapes, and believe he is the man who preyed on the girls.
        They first connected him to the rape last year but could not immediately charge him.
        Blea also is facing charges of raping a young family member, whom he is accused of assaulting over a period of 3 years, from the time she was 13 to the time she was 16. Those attacks occurred from 2003-2006; police learned of them from a journal the girl kept that was recently given to them.
        In the Mid School Rapist case, Blea's DNA connected him to the Nov. 2, 1988, assault of a 13-year-old girl as she returned home from school.
        The alleged victim told police she had walked home from McKinley Middle School and was attacked as soon as she entered the house by a man wearing a tan ski mask and prescription glasses, according to court documents.
        The knife-wielding man covered her mouth and ordered her to be quiet. He then forced her onto a couch in the living room and raped her.
        She told police the man punched her in the head when she screamed.
        After the assault he forced her into a bathroom, where he used a telephone cord to secure the bathroom door so she could not escape. She was later able to get out and go to a neighbor's home for help.
        Spike in rapes
        Blea moved to Albuquerque in 1988 from Portales, and there was an immediate increase in the number of rapes, specifically of young girls in the area surrounding the middle school, according to APD spokeswoman Nadine Hamby. He lived on Quincy, a few blocks from the school.
        Police first connected Blea's DNA to the 1988 case early last year.
        In 2008, he was arrested on suspicion of choking his wife. He was charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery against a household member causing great bodily harm and was held on a $250,000 cash-only bond, according to jail records.
        Per state law, Blea's DNA was obtained during the booking process on the domestic violence charges and entered into a DNA database.
        In October 2008, a detective who was a friend of the girl who was raped at her home in 1988 asked that the case be revisited. The alleged victim just happened to ask the detective to take another look at the case, according to Hamby.
        DNA evidence collected from the victim was entered into the DNA database and in January 2009 the results showed the DNA was a match to Blea's.
        But it wasn't until last June that a state law extended the statute of limitations, allowing suspects to be charged in rape cases as far back as 1982.
        Hamby said APD tried to find a link between Blea and the other rapes, but the physical evidence wasn't there. Police believe a condom might have been used in the assaults.
        Still, "we believe him to be the Mid School rapist," Hamby said Tuesday.
        Journal evidence
        Meanwhile, Blea was indicted by a Bernalillo County grand jury in May on numerous counts including criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact of a minor in connection with the alleged rape of a young relative.
        He is accused of abusing the girl until she was 16, when she threatened to go to police.
        The girl documented the alleged abuse in a notebook and left it behind when she moved out of state in February.
        Blea's daughter moved into the home a few weeks later and found the notebook. She alerted her mother and the two went to Albuquerque police.

Call 505-823-4400 to subscribe
Submit a news tip | E-mail reporter