Man Accused of 1978 Rape, Kidnapping in Park Hills Arrested

This article has been updated to correct errors related to the date of the suspect's arrest and a reference to the victim's current age, which is not known.

A man accused of kidnapping and raping a woman in Park Hills forty-one years ago was arrested in Georgia.

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders announced on Friday morning the arrest of Michael Dean Tate, 77. Tate is charged with first degree rape, first degree sodomy, and kidnapping. 

The Boone County Sheriff's Department's cold case detectives Timothy Adams and Coy Cox obtained an arrested warrant for Tate on Thursday.

Tate is being held on $500,000 cash bond in Union County, Georgia. He is awaiting extradition to  Kentucky, a process that Sanders could take months if Tate were to contest that.

He was first arrested in connection to this case this week by agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Sanders said.

The alleged crimes took place at around 4 a.m. on October 1, 1978. A woman in her twenties contacted Park Hills Police to report that she was raped and kidnapped. The woman said a man grabbed her by the throat and from behind as she exited her vehicle at around 2 a.m.

She told police that the man threatened to kill her if she continued to struggle or make noise.

The man shut the woman's car door and forced her into his car before driving to St. Joseph's Lane in Park Hills where the woman said that she was raped for the next two hours.

The woman told police that during the rape she repeatedly begged for her life after the man bragged about having killed other women.

The woman was released alive and went to police. No one was ever charged.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department's cold case detectives began working on the case in 2017 after noticing similarities to an unsolved murder in the county.

Adams and Cox found that Park Hills Police had collected fingerprints from the woman's car door in 1978, but at that time, there was no computerized fingerprint database.

In 2017, the local detectives submitted the suspect's fingerprints to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified that that the fingerprints matched Michael Dean Tate. Further details about the unsolved homicide were not released.

Adams and Cox tracked down Tate and found that he lived in Georgia. However, further investigation documented that Tate had been in Cincinnati in the mid-70's.

The 1978 victim now lives thousands of miles from Park Hills now, Sanders said. Investigators flew to her home for an interview and she said that she did not know anyone named Michael Dean Tate.

The woman said that she parked her car in her garage, hadn't had it worked on or serviced recently, and didn't know of anyone who touched her car door except the man who raped her.

Detectives couldn't find any reason Tate's fingerprints would be on the car door except if he were responsible for the kidnapping and assault, Sanders said.

This week, Adams and Cox traveled to Tate's home in Union County, Georgia. They said that Tate admitted to raping a woman in Kentucky that he grabbed from behind as she exited her car in a garage.

According to Sanders, though Tate wasn't sure of the exact date, Tate told detectives it "could have been 1978." Tate went on to admit to more sexual assaults in at least two additional states, Sanders said. Detectives are now working on those additional cases as well.

"This is some of the most amazing police work I've ever seen," Sanders said. "A lot of police executives would have balked at the cost of this investigation, especially for a case from a neighboring jurisdiction.

"But I can't praise (Boone County) Sheriff (Michael) Helmig and his team enough. They're fantastic."

-Staff report

Photo: Michael Dean Tate (courtesy of Union County, Georgia Detention Center)