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Va. man pleads not guilty in rape case

May 23, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Virginia man charged in a 1998 rape at a Chambersburg mattress store pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Wednesday and will be scheduled for the July trial term, according to court officials.

Nelson Eugene Ryder, 40, of Stephens City, Va., is charged with two counts of rape and three counts of aggravated indecent assault, according to court records.

He is charged in the July 6, 1998, rape of a 29-year-old female employee of the former Mattress Outlet store at 1502 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg.

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A man who entered the store that morning engaged the woman in a conversation about mattresses. The woman was alone in the store at the time, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

The man got her to the back of the store, where she was restrained and raped, the affidavit said.

Her assailant told the woman not to move or he would come back and kill her, the affidavit said.

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.

The scientist contacted Cpl. George Cronin in the Chambersburg Barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police on March 26 about the match, and Ryder was arrested the next day by Virginia State Police, according to court records.

During a preliminary hearing before District Justice Larry Meminger last month, the victim pointed to Ryder as her attacker.

The woman testified last month that the man's presence in the store made her uneasy.

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

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

She was grabbed from behind as she turned to go back to the front of the store, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Ryder is being held on $200,000 bond in Franklin County Prison.

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