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Boone County detectives crack 41-year-old cold case; rape suspect arrested in Georgia

Woman was raped in Park Hills in 1978
Posted at 11:04 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-16 02:06:31-05

PARK HILLS, Ky. — A man accused of kidnapping and raping a woman over 40 years ago in Park Hills has been arrested in Georgia, according to Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders.

Agents arrested 77-year-old Michael Dean Tate on Thursday on charges of kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

A woman in her 20s told Park Hills police that a man grabbed her by the throat as she was getting out of her car on Oct. 1, 1978. The man shut her car door, forced her into his car, and drove to St. Joseph’s Lane, where he raped her for about two hours, Sanders said.

Police took fingerprints from the woman’s car after the attack, but fingerprint databases did not exist at the time, Sanders said.

Boone County Sheriff's Department Cold Case Detectives Timothy Adams and Coy Cox began an investigation into the unsolved case in 2017 after noticing similarities to an unsolved homicide in Boone County, according to Sanders.

Adams and Cox found that Park Hills police had collected the suspect’s fingerprints from the woman’s car, and they submitted the prints to the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The FBI confirmed the prints matched Tate's.

The detectives tracked Tate down and found him in Georgia; however, further investigation revealed he was in Cincinnati in the mid-70s.

The woman no longer lives in Northern Kentucky, but Adams and Cox flew to her home to interview her. She told detectives that at the time of the attack she usually parked her car in the garage, she hadn’t had it serviced recently, and she didn’t know of anyone who had touched her car at the time except for the man who had raped her.

Detectives couldn't find any reason Tate's fingerprints would be on the car door except if he were responsible for the kidnapping and sexual assault, Sanders said.

Tate admitted to raping a woman in Kentucky when Adams and Cox traveled to his Georgia home on Wednesday. He said he had grabbed her from behind as she got out of her car. He wasn’t sure of the exact date, but he told detectives it “could have been 1978.”

Tate told detectives he had sexually assaulted more women in at least two more states, Sanders said. Authorities are now working on those cases.

Tate is being held in the Union County Jail awaiting extradition to Kentucky. He is being held on a $500,000 cash bond.