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The nearly 10-year search for a man dubbed "Zombie Mike" who was wanted in two sexual assault cases may finally be at an end, police sources reportedly said this week.
DNA from a decomposed body that was discovered in March in a wooded area behind the Mohawk Commons shopping center in Niskayuna, New York — about 10 miles from Albany — matched Michael "Zombie Mike" Hawkins, officials told the Albany Times Union.
Hawkins, who was given his moniker on account of his poor personal hygiene, according to the Schenectady Daily Gazette, was facing rape charges in two Schenectady County cases at the time of his 2013 disappearance.
The remains discovered in March were skeletal in nature, making them difficult to identify with any immediate certainty — but clothing containing identification in the pocket was found with the remains, according to the Times Union. Ultimately, sources told the paper, DNA from the remains that were compared to a sample provided by Hawkins' mother showed a high probability of a match.
Police told the paper they suspect that Hawkins died by suicide; a belt was found hanging in a tree near the remains, according to the Times Union.
Hawkins had been charged with rape, aggravated first-degree sexual abuse and other charges after a Schenectady woman told police in June 2012 that he'd raped her in her apartment, according to the Daily Gazette. The family members of the woman, who has developmental disabilities and who used a wheelchair, were reportedly asleep in an adjacent room, according to local New York station WPIX.
Police in Schenectady confirmed to Oxygen.com on Tuesday that the DNA in the 2012 case was a match to Hawkins. The department had a warrant issued for Hawkins and considered him a fugitive when, in November 2013, a friend invited him over for a family gathering, according to WPIX. That friend shared a home with his wife in the neighboring town of Rotterdam; Hawkins allegedly sexually assaulted the friend's wife while at the gathering. He was charged with first-degree rape in that case.
Investigators had no luck locating Hawkins after charging him in the second rape case.
In 2016, U.S. Marshalls joined the search for Hawkins, according to the Vacaville Reporter, noting that, as a result of his work history with traveling carnival companies, he had personal ties in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida and could be traveling with carnivals along the East Coast, in Tennessee, in Ohio or in Puerto Rico. They offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture; according to a 2017 Daily Gazette report, none of the 100 tips they were given panned led to his location or body.
In 2017, investigators released a series of YouTube videos that Hawkins had made under the name Mthug007, according to the Daily Gazette, featuring him playing guitar covers of heavy metal songs by Lamb of God, Metallica and Godsmack, among rock acts. The most recent crop of the videos was made after police allege he raped the woman in Schenectady but before they say he allegedly raped his friend's wife in Rotterdam.
Hawkins was featured on an episode of Investigation Discovery's "In Pursuit With John Walsh" in January 2019 in a further effort to track him down.
Acting Niskayuna Police Chief Michael Stevens declined to discuss the Hawkins case with the Times Union on Monday.
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