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Va. man faces trial in sex case

April 15, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

A district justice on Friday found sufficient evidence for a trial in the sexual assault case against convicted rapist Nelson Eugene Ryder, who is charged in the 1998 attack of a Franklin County woman.

District Justice Larry K. Meminger sent the case to the Court of Common Pleas following a preliminary hearing.

Ryder, 40, of Stephens City, Va., is being held on $200,000 bond in Franklin County Prison. He was arrested in Virginia on March 27 by Virginia State Police after Pennsylvania State Police tracked him down through DNA evidence.

The victim, a 29-year-old female employee of a former Mattress Outlet store at 1502 Lincoln Way East, pointed to Ryder as the man who attacked her in the store on the morning of July 6, 1998.

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A state police forensic scientist matched DNA samples taken from the victim's body and clothing with Ryder's DNA through the National DNA Index System. States compile DNA profiles of people convicted of certain crimes, including many sexual offenses and homicide.

Meminger said Virginia authorities have a detainer on Ryder for a parole violation. Meminger said Ryder has been convicted of rape in Virginia.

Ryder was represented by Public Defender Robert Trambley.

Jack Nelson, district attorney for Franklin County, called the victim to the stand before a courtroom crowded with so many of her friends and family members that Meminger had to send some out into the hallway.

Ryder, his hands and feet shackled, sat quietly during testimony.

The Herald-Mail does not publish victim's names in sexual assault cases.

The victim testified that she was alone in the store around 10:30 a.m. when Ryder came in.

"He walked straight up to the desk and said, 'I need a bed'," she said.

His presence made her uneasy, she said.

Ryder asked to use the restroom. The employee told him it was out of order.

"Something told me to say no," she said.

Ryder went to the back room saying he wanted to check out bunk beds.

"He was trying to get me back there, but something told me not to go," she said.

She was grabbed from behind as she turned to go back to the front of the store, she said.

The courtroom was hushed during her testimony, which at times was graphic as she described the assault. Several women were crying.

After the assault the victim was taken to Chambersburg Hospital where she was treated and released.

Ryder will be arraigned May 22.

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