Nearly two weeks after the 37-year-old Maryland resident was found dead off a hiking trail, police said that DNA evidence collected at the crime scene has been linked to a case out in Los Angeles.
In a news conference on Aug. 17, Colonel William Davis of the Harford County Sheriff's Office said DNA analyzed by the Maryland State Police matched a sample collected from a home invasion that occurred in March, during which a "young girl" was assaulted. Further details into the assault case were not disclosed, though investigators showed surveillance footage they obtained of the home invasion suspect leaving the residence.
Davis said officials believe the individual in shown in the video "to be the person who murdered Rachel Morin on August 5th."
Investigators do not know the suspect's identity, but they believe he is a man about 5-foot-9, 160 lbs. and of Hispanic descent, according to Davis. Authorities also believe the suspect is between the age of 20 and 30 years old.
"We believe this was a person that Rachel didn't know, potentially a random act of violence," Davis told reporters. "We know nothing more about him other than he was in L.A. and committed that crime in March, and he was here in August and we believe him to be the murderer of Rachel Morin."
Rachel was reported missing by her boyfriend on the night of Aug. 5 after she failed to return home from a walk on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air, Md. The following day, her body was discovered off the trail with signs of trauma, leading authorities to pivot from a missing persons investigation to a homicide case.
"Part of the investigation is going to be tracing back her steps from the last time she was seen to when she arrived at the trailhead, that's where her car was discovered," Harford County Sheriff Jeffery Gahler told local outlet WBAL-TV at the time. "We do not have a solid suspect. Not knowing whether this was a targeted event specific to Rachel, we are going to say, yes, be aware, be thinking there could be somebody out here and this is a random event."
Rachel's sister Rebekah Morin also believes foul play was involved in the mom-of-five's death.
"This was not an accidentally [sic] death," she wrote of Rachel in a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for burial costs, "and she did not go willingly and she deserves a funeral worthy of her beauty."
Rebekah added, "Rachel Morin I love you and miss you so much. I know you are up there with our boys who have gone up before us, in a way I'm jealous that you get to see them again first, and angry that you left me here without you... Save a place for me."
Those with information into Rachel's murder have been asked to contact the Harford County Sheriff's Office at (410) 836-7788 or via email at RMtips@HarfordSheriff.org.