A 26-year-old cold case has now been solved thanks to help from a genealogy database.
Court records show that 50-year-old Raymond Rowe pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Tuesday. Rowe, a Pennsylvania wedding DJ, admitted to having raped and strangled beloved elementary school teacher Christy Mirack. She was 25 years old at the time the crime was committed.
What’s interesting is how the case was solved.
According to his now-defunct website, Rowe – who used the stage name DJ Freez – was a successful party DJ. The page claimed he’d worked for celebrities including Brooke Hogan and Paris Hilton. It also alleged that he’d DJed events that featured The Eagles, Sting, and Lenny Kravitz.
In 1992, he raped, brutally beat, and murdered Mirack in her own home – a secret he’d kept all these years.
Cracking a Cold Case
Decades after Mirack’s murder, the case went unsolved. However, thanks to the rising popularity of genetic genealogy databases, that’s now changed.
It was a novel, new, investigative technology called genetic genealogy that helped investigators find Rowe. This is the same technology that helped authorities track down and arrest the Golden State Killer. Additionally, it has since helped identify more than a dozen suspects in other cases as well.
Samples of DNA from the crime scene were uploaded by investigators to a genetic genealogy database. There, they were able to link the DNA to one of Rowe’s relatives. This led them to set their sights on Rowe himself.
In the spring of 2018, investigators collected samples of Rowe’s DNA from chewing gum and a water bottle. According to prosecutors, both had been used by Rowe while DJing at an elementary school.
The DNA gathered was found to be a match for that which was found on Mirack’s body and carpet.
While his motive may very well never be known, Rowe apologized to Mirack’s family. In court, his defense attorney Patricia Spotts said that Rowe “admitted his guilt.”
“I can’t imagine what you are going through. I apologize,” Rowe told the victim’s family. To her father, he said, “I’m sorry, sir.”
Rowe was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Additionally, he was given a consecutive sentence of 60 to 120 years.
“It’s a result that is long overdue,” said Lancaster District Attorney Craig Stedman.