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Northumberland County man charged with series of sexual assaults and kidnappings

Kurtz.jpg

MILTON, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WOLF) -- A Northumberland County man is facing 28 charges tonight including rape and aggravated assault for a series of sexual assaults and kidnappings taking place over the last several years.

A nearly 30 page criminal complaint and affidavit not only lays out the charges 43-year-old John Kurtz is facing, but the horrific acts police say he put three Northumberland County women through between 2012 and 2017.

Police say he confessed to those crimes earlier today.

John Kurtz didn’t have anything to say to reporters tonight as he was led away from a Milton magistrate in cuffs.

The Shamokin man charged tonight with 28 offenses, including rape and kidnapping.

Police say he’s the man behind a series of sexual assaults and kidnappings in Northumberland County spanning from 2012 to spring of this year.

“These investigations date back to 2012 when the first incident occurred. So from 2012 til today this has been an open investigation,” Lt. Sherman Shadle said.

Police say the first assault happened back in November of 2012.

According to the criminal complaint, a man wearing a rubbery Halloween mask came into the Shamokin home of a victim identified as “DS.”

He allegedly zip-tied her hands behind her back, put a ball gag in her mouth and covered her eyes with a blindfold before taking her up and down the stairs from the living room to the basement.

Then finally cut off the ties and left, the blindfold and ball gag left behind.

The next two assaults happened in July 2016 and April 2017 in Turbot and Jackson Townships.

Police say a man came into both victims’ homes, also bound their hands with zip-ties, blindfolded, and gagged them, then took them to unknown locations where he raped them, smoked cigarettes, and then later released them.

DNA samples collected from both the 2016 and 2017 victims’ rape kits were linked back to DNA taken from the blindfold in the 2012 assault.

“This case has been on our minds non-stop since the July 2016 case. At that point we identified an issue that we needed to put a task force together to work on this case. Its been a continued investigation since then,” Lt. Shadle said.

The affidavit also lists records of Google searches of the second victim’s address, made four hours before her rape and kidnapping.

The IP address registered to Kurtz, a correctional officer at SCI Coal Township, where the second victim’s husband also works.

Police say on the night of the rape the victim’s husband was working and as an officer, Kurtz would have had access to the schedule.

“They went through a lot of data that they had to sort through and find small bits of evidence that led us to where we are today. And it’s a credit to their work ethic that we are where we’re at today with a successful conclusion.”

Police also traced the billing address of his cell phone number to a home in Paxinos, Northumberland County. Police say it’s the residence of his parents and is consistent with the location described to police by the second and third victims.

And last week, police conducted a 24-hour surveillance detail on Kurtz, retrieving two discarded cigarette butts and submitting them for forensic analysis.

They say the DNA from those cigarette butts matches samples from the second victim’s rape kit.

Kurtz was taken into custody at SCI Coal Township just before 6:00 a.m. Monday.

Police say he confessed to the home invasion in 2012, saying he intended to kidnap and rape that victim, and also both rapes and kidnappings in 2016 and 2017.

He’s currently locked up in Centre County prison on $1.5 million.

His preliminary hearing is set for December 27.

Police are also asking other potential victims to come forward. They are conducting investigations in other areas and depending on the results, there could potentially be additional charges.

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