After a decade of police searching for alleged rapist Michael Hawkins, Niskayuna police confirmed Friday that his skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in March.
The remains were found by a passerby walking along Rudge Street, a dead-end road off Consaul Road, who was looking for deer antler shedding when he stumbled across a skull, according to Niskayuna Deputy Chief Mike Stevens.
A state identification card and employee card belonging to Hawkins were found in the wooded area, according to Niskayuna Police Sgt. Joseph Twitty. He said there was a belt hanging from the limb of a nearby tree, “appearing to indicate that the individual hanged himself, slipping from the restraints after decomposition had set in.”
The remains were sent to Albany Medical Center where an autopsy was performed and two molars were sent to the state DNA center where DNA was extracted. That DNA was compared to samples from a relative which was provided to police in 2017. The test confirmed the remains were related to Hawkins’ relative, and the DNA sample also matched the DNA from the rape kits.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said the case should not have ended this way. Two of Hawkins’ victims were from Schenectady County.
“I think it would’ve been much better if he had come into court and been held accountable in a court of law for what he did,” Carney said. “On the other hand the decision to do what he did spared these two women from having to relive what happened to them.”
On June 11, 2012 Hawkins visited a family on Avenue B in the city, and during the early morning hours, police said, he raped a young woman who was living there.
“The incident was immediately reported and a rape test kit was obtained from Ellis Hospital,” Twitty said.
Schenectady police were notified to look for Hawkins, but could not locate him.
Then more than a year later on Oct. 14, 2013, Hawkins visited friends on Guilderland Avenue in Rotterdam where a woman alleged Hawkins had raped her while she was sleeping, according to Twitty.
Twitty said the Rotterdam victim underwent a rape kit exam and collection of evidence.
Police attempted to locate Hawkins on Oct. 14, 2013, including talking to a neighbor who had briefly seen him. He was not located that day and a warrant was issued on Oct. 22, 2013.
Between 2013 and 2021, law enforcement, including the U.S. Marshals Service, continued searching for Hawkins. In 2019, Hawkins was the subject of an episode of “In Pursuit with John Walsh,” the television program that tries to identify and locate criminals for prosecution.
The U.S. Marshals Service was preparing to extend the search internationally when they were notified about the human remains in Niskayuna, U.S. Marshall David McNulty said.