Man denies kidnapping, rape charges in 1999 North County cold case

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. (CNS) – A 64-year-old man accused of kidnapping and raping a 19-year-old woman in Escondido over two decades ago pleaded not guilty to charges Thursday.

Mark Thompson Hunter was arrested Tuesday in Hemet for allegedly attacking the victim on Feb. 17, 1999. The charges against him include forcible rape and kidnapping.

According to Escondido police, Hunter approached the victim around 8:30 that night at a gas station convenience store on Grand Avenue south of Rose Street and asked for directions to the Super 7 Motel in Escondido.

The woman agreed to drive her car to show him to the motel and let him follow in his vehicle, Escondido Lt. Bode Berreth said.

Near Valley Parkway and Fig Street, Thompson motioned for her to pull over at a nearby parking lot, the lieutenant said.

She got out and approached the man’s vehicle, then Hunter allegedly pulled her into his van, drove her to another location and raped her, Berreth said. Hunter then allegedly drove her back to her vehicle, released her and drove off.

Investigators were unable to identify a suspect at the time, but detectives continued pursuing the case and collaborated with the FBI, Berreth said.

DNA obtained from the original crime was resubmitted and led investigators to identify Hunter as the suspect, Berreth said.

He was arrested after leaving his home in Hemet, then a search warrant was served on his residence by Escondido police detectives and FBI agents.

Hunter was being held in custody without bail, though a bail review hearing was set for next week.

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