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The man accused of murdering Sarah Yarborough in 1991 had a string of sexual assault cases

The man accused of murdering 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough in 1991 had a string of sexual assault cases.

It took nearly three decades for police to catch a man accused of brutally murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1991. Then they discovered he had a string of previous assaults against women.

' 48 Hours just released the ," a deep dive into the case and the 30-year journey it took to find and arrest Patrick Nicholas.

In May, A King County jury found Nicholas guilty of first-degree felony murder in Yarborough's murder, the reported.

Yarborough's body was found in a brush just near Federal Way High School. She was still partially dressed in her drill team's uniform: a blue skirt and sweater, the reported at the Time. She had arrived at school that morning to meet up with the team. Her car was parked in the school lot, about 300 feet from where her body was found.

She had been strangled to death. She had not been raped, CBS reported, but investigators found semen on Yarborough's clothes. Despite that DNA evidence, Nicholas wasn't tied to Yarborough's murder. Investigators told CBS News they received over 4,000 tips in her case, but none mentioned Nicholas.

'What year?'

When genealogist's finally tied the DNA evidence from the case to Nicholas, they began to follow him in an effort to collect his DNA to confirm it matched. In 2019, investigators were able to collect cigarette butts that Nicholas threw to the ground, eventually getting a match with the DNA evidence.

Nicholas was arrested and charged with the murder of Yarborough. Police said when investigators asked Nicholas about the rape and murder, he gave a strange response.

"What we're investigating is the death of a young girl. Her name is Sarah Yarborough," a detective asked.

"What year?" Nicholas replied.

That response raised eyebrows, and police began to wonder if there were other victims.

A history of rape

In fact, Nicholas had previously been sentenced to 10 years in prison in the attempted rape of Anne Croney in 1983. Croney was 21 years old at the time.

Croney was sitting by her car near the Columbia River in Richland, Washington, when Nicholas approached her. They began to talk, but Nicholas' behavior soon changed. When Croney started to leave, Nicholas pulled a knife and ordered her to take her clothes off. He stuffed her underwear in her mouth to stop her from screaming.

To escape, Croney jumped in the river. During their brief conversation, Nicholas had mentioned that he couldn't swim.

During the investigation into Croney's attempted rape, police learned that Nicholas had also served time for previously raping two women and attempting to rape a third. He'd only been out of jail for a few months when he assaulted Croney.

Nicholas was released early

While Nicholas was sentenced to 10 years in prison, he only ended up serving three and a half years.

His assaults against women did not end with the murder of Yarborough. Police said just three years after her rape and murder, Nicholas was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor.

Despite all the assaults, Nicholas at the time was not required to submit his DNA so it could be put into a nationwide database.

In May, he was sentenced to 46 years in prison. Police don't know if Nicholas is tied to any additional cases, but his DNA is now in the database.

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