TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — In an obituary published after his death in 2014, Elliott Higgins was described as a music teacher who touched the lives of hundreds of students over the years.
“He was a very focused teacher,” sister Sally Chapman said in a piece published in the Santa Fe New Mexican. “When he found a serious student, his job was to take them as far as he could take them.”
Now, a very different side of Elliott Higgins is being told. During a press conference in Tuscaloosa Thursday afternoon, officers with the Tuscaloosa County Violent Crimes Unit linked the music teacher to two sexual assaults that were reported in Tuscaloosa County in 1990 and 2001, as well as another in El Paso County, Colorado in 2004.
According to the TCVCU, the three assaults were linked to one suspect, but for years, no viable individual was ever named. That changed in October when the department submitted the DNA to Parabon Labs, who were able to provide a link to Higgins. Subsequent DNA testing of Higgins’ surviving family marked him as the suspect with a probability of 99.999%.
“Although this subject is now deceased, by identifying him, we hope to bring closure to his known victims, and encourage any other persons who may have been a victim of Higgins to contact the appropriate police jurisdiction,” the department stated in a release.
According to the TCVCU, Higgins helped create the “International Horn Competition,” which he founded in 1976 and was a judge. Over the years, the competition was held at different universities across the country, including the University of Alabama, which hosted the competition in 1990 and 2001, the same weeks the sexual assaults were reported.
“It was also confirmed through competition records that Higgins was present and a judge at both competitions in Tuscaloosa, the years of the sexual assaults in question,” the release stated.
Higgins, who lived outside Santa Fe, New Mexico most of his life, also operated a youth music camp for years called the Hummingbird Music Camp. He also served as the conductor of the Albuquerque Philharmonic, as well as a manager of the Santa Barbara Symphony in California, and the Fort Wayne Indiana Philharmonic in Indiana.
In addition to DNA testing, several composite drawings, modus operandi, victim identification and other evidence during the investigation showed Higgins was the likely perpetrator of the sexual assaults reported in Tuscaloosa County.
The TCVU also reported that during its investigation, they uncovered a criminal record of sexual assaults allegedly committed by Higgins during the 1970s.
“It is suspected that Higgins may have committed similar violent assaults throughout his lifetime, and throughout the country,” the release stated. “All investigative information has been shared with all police jurisdictions where the horn competitions were held, as well as forwarded to the FBI.”
Higgins died on September 23, 2014. He was 73.