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    Police in Oklahoma arrest man accused of raping, killing Maryland jogger last August

    By Jonathan Limehouse, USA TODAY,

    26 days ago

    The nationwide manhunt for the person who killed a 37-year-old Maryland woman on a popular hiking trail last year may have ended in Oklahoma over the weekend with the arrest of a suspect in Rachel Morin's death.

    Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez , 23, was charged with the first-degree murder and first-degree rape of Morin, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said during a news conference in Maryland on Saturday.

    "The young mother of five whose life was violently taken in a public location, that is one of the safest places in the state, is not supposed to happen," Gahler said. "... I'm here to tell you, Rachel's murderer is no longer free. Hopefully, he will never have the opportunity to walk free again."
    The Harford County Sheriff's Office said there are 10 investigators working on the case of Rachel Morin, the Maryland woman who was a “victim of a violent homicide.” Harford County Sheriff's Office

    Morin's body was found on Aug. 6 near the popular Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air, Maryland, spawning a nationwide investigation that led detectives to a home invasion in Southern California, and locations in South America, before Martinez-Hernandez's arrest in the middle of the country.

    Martinez-Hernandez was arrested by police in Tulsa just before midnight on Friday on accusations of trespassing in front of a business, according to Gahler. Tulsa police, who were aware of a murder warrant for Martinez-Hernandez signed in Maryland on Friday afternoon, arrested him for trespassing and the killing and rape of Morin, the sheriff added.

    "At one point when things seemed bleak and hopeless, the lead detective said to me, 'Patience will win in the end,'" Morin's mother, Patricia Morin, said about the authorities. "... I'm so grateful that they have brought us to this place."

    It is unclear if Martinez-Hernandez has a defense attorney at this time.

    Here's what we know about the case.

    A timeline of events in the Rachel Morin case

    • Aug. 5, 2023 : Morin was reported missing at 11:20 p.m. by her boyfriend who told law enforcement she did not return from her walk. Morin was last seen on the trail around 6 p.m., and her vehicle was found near the footpath, the sheriff's office said.
    • August 6 : Harford County sheriff's deputies found Morin's body near the Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air, Maryland, and said she was a "victim of a violent homicide."
    • August 9 : During a news conference, the sheriff's office showed a video of a man in California who authorities believed to be Morin's killer. The clip from a security cam positioned outside a Southern California home showed the shirtless man exiting the house without his face visible.
    • August 17 : Authorities announced a DNA connection between Morin's suspected killer and a man who assaulted a 9-year-old girl and her mother in Southern California during a home invasion on March 26.
    • September 7 : The Harford County Sheriff’s Office posted a video update saying they “collected and watched hours of video footage from in and around the trail where she disappeared” in search of additional witnesses and evidence. Gahler also said the sheriff's office planned to patrol the trail accordingly and aimed to get cameras installed along the footpath since there is a decrease in use of the trail in the winter.
    • February 12 : A finalized sketch of the suspect was released by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, but a name was not formally released.
    • June 14 : Tulsa police apprehended Martinez-Hernandez in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and arrested him on suspicion of trespassing outside a business and the killing and rape of Morin.

    What happens to Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez now

    Martinez-Hernandez remains in custody in Oklahoma as he awaits extradition back to Maryland, which could take 30 to 60 days, State Attorney Alison Healey said during the news conference.

    Martinez-Hernandez, an El Salvadorian citizen, is also accused of murdering a young woman in El Salvador in January 2023, according to Gahler. He fled the country and investigators believe he came to the U.S. without authorization in February 2023, the sheriff added.

    "But it is my hope, and the hope of all working this case, that the arrest of this suspect brings her family and our Harford County community some peace," Gahler said.
    Pictured is a sign of Rachel Morin posted at a Ma & Pa Trail head in Bel Air, Maryland. Morin's body was found on the trail in August 2023. Courtesy of the Harford County Sheriff's Office

    It is still unclear if Morin's murder was random, or if she was targeted, according to Gahler.

    "I don't know that we have that answer explicitly or completely, but at this point, there's nothing to indicate that anyone other than (Martinez-Hernandez) was involved," according to the sheriff. "We do have some belief that he spent some time in the Bel Air area so he may have seen (Morin) in her more or less routine operations."

    The sheriff's office continues to request information from the public to help bring justice to Morin and her family, Gahler said. Martinez-Hernandez still has pending charges in California, Tulsa and El Salvador, but Morin's murder will take precedence, the sheriff added.

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Police in Oklahoma arrest man accused of raping, killing Maryland jogger last August

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