Harford County Sheriff's Office & FBI Team with Othram to Identify the Suspect in Rachel Morin’s Sexual Assault and Murder

Ten months after Rachel Morin’s brutal rape and murder, 23-year-old Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, an international fugitive from El Salvador, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape.

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Published June 17 by Michael Vogen
Media Inquiries


In August 2023, Rachel Morin was murdered on the Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. The Ma and Pa Trail follows the path of the old Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad through Harford County, Maryland, and is known as a safe and frequent location for walking and running. Morin, a mother of five children, went for a run on Saturday, August 5, 2023 and did not return home that evening. Morin was reported missing just before midnight on August 5th. The following day, a search was launched and Morin’s body was located in a culvert off of the trail. Officials determined that Morin, whose car was found in a nearby parking lot, had been raped and murdered. After recovering Morin’s body, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office appealed to the public for their help, asking for information from anyone who may have seen Morin on or near the trail at Williams Street or at the Ellendale Street parking lot, between the hours of 5:00 PM and 11:00 PM on Saturday, August 5th. Morin’s rape and murder garnered widespread attention across the country and the world and went unsolved for ten months.

Evidence from the crime scene was collected, and an STR profile for an unknown male individual was developed and entered into the Combined DNA Index System database (CODIS). While there was not a match to a known offender in CODIS, the profile matched to an unknown male perpetrator responsible for a separate unsolved crime committed in Los Angeles, California. The man responsible for Morin’s rape and murder had committed a home invasion and assaulted a nine-year-old girl and her mother in Los Angeles just five months prior, in March of 2023. A video showing the suspect leaving the scene of the Los Angeles crime was obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department. A still from the video as well as a description of the man was released to the public in hopes that Morin’s killer could be identified and apprehended. The man, described as being Hispanic, was believed to be between 20 to 30 years old, was estimated to be 5’9” tall, and weighed approximately 160 pounds.

In February 2024, six months after Morin’s death, a composite sketch of the perpetrator was released to the public. At this point in the investigation, Harford County detectives had conducted more than 100 interviews, followed up on more than 1,000 tips, and traveled to seven different states with ten federal, state, and local agencies assisting. Thousands of flyers had been distributed in Maryland and California with information about Morin’s death. A reward of $35,000 was offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the unknown killer.

In September 2023, after CODIS testing did not lead to the identity of Morin’s killer, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the FBI to submit forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas, in hopes that advanced DNA testing could help to identify the perpetrator. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown suspect. After successfully completing the process, the DNA profile was delivered to the FBI Baltimore Division Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) Team. That team performed the necessary genetic genealogy research to generate new investigative leads in the case.

Using these new leads, a follow-up investigation was launched. In early May 2024, a potential suspect was identified through genealogy as 23-year-old Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. While his identity was confirmed, Martinez-Hernandez’s whereabouts were not immediately known. On June 14, 2024, late in the afternoon, additional information and evidence was obtained that confirmed Martinez-Hernandez was the suspect in this case. A warrant for his arrest was then obtained by Detectives with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Their Investigators quickly tracked Martinez-Hernandez to Tulsa, Oklahoma. On June 14, 2024, the FBI and Tulsa Police Department Detectives and Patrol Officers converged on a bar located at 21st and Garnett in Tulsa, Oklahoma where officers found Martinez-Hernandez sitting at the bar. When approached by officers, Martinez-Hernandez initially lied about his identity and denied any knowledge of the alleged crimes. He was arrested at 11:28 PM and booked into the Tulsa County Jail.

Martinez-Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape for the rape and murder of Rachel Morin. Efforts are underway to extradite Martinez-Hernandez to Maryland from Oklahoma, which could take 30 to 60 days. Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healy will prosecute the case. Martinez-Hernandez crossed into the United States in February 2023 after a warrant for his arrest was issued in January 2023 for the murder of a young woman in El Salvador. Hernandez has ties to the Washington, D.C. area, including Virginia and Prince George’s County, Maryland, as well as to known gangs.

Although the DNA profiles from the March 2023 Los Angeles crime and Morin’s August 2023 rape and murder matched to one another in CODIS, they did not match to a known individual. The investigative approach taken in this case highlights the value of combining traditional DNA testing and databases with forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) to solve cases where a suspect’s DNA profile is present in CODIS, but not linked to a known individual. FGG enables law enforcement to leverage familial matches to build out potential family trees that can lead to the identification of the suspect. This is especially important when a suspect is tied to multiple crimes. When a DNA profile appears in CODIS more than once, but the perpetrator remains unidentified, FGG can be used to determine the person’s identity.

Help fund another case Your contributions pay for lab supplies and research tools

Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at ... Read morerecovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit Othram.com to learn how we can help you with your case. With dnasolves.com anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.