How DJ Was Busted in Old Cold Case: Gum, a Water Bottle

Raymond Rowe charged in 1992 murder thanks to new DNA technique called genetic genealogy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2019 8:07 AM CST

(Newser) – More than a quarter century had passed since the murder of a 25-year-old Pennsylvania teacher before an arrest was made in June, and now the suspect, a disc jockey known as "DJ Freez," has admitted his culpability. ABC News reports Raymond Rowe, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of first-degree murder, rape, and related counts in the case of Christy Mirack, whose body was found beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted in December 1992 at her East Lampeter Township home. "He has told us that he did it," Rowe's defense lawyer said at a hearing Tuesday, per a Lancaster County District Attorney's Office statement. Rowe—who never offered a motive, and who will receive a sentence of life in prison without parole, as well as a consecutive sentence of 60 to 120 years—was arrested after the case stagnated for more than 25 years.

What helped break it wide open: a new DNA technique called genetic genealogy, famously used to help bust the "Golden State Killer" in April. The technology, which takes DNA from a crime scene and tries to match it to that of either family members or suspects themselves via ancestry databases, has led to the identification of around two dozen other suspects. Per WGAL, after uploading DNA found on Mirack's body and the rug underneath her into one such database and finding matches to Rowe's relatives, investigators then got their hands on Rowe's DNA from gum and a water bottle he'd used while DJing at a school; a match was made from there. Rowe addressed Mirack's family in court Tuesday. "I can't imagine what you are going through. I apologize," he said. Mirack's brother spoke directly to Rowe, and had one pointed question: "Why? Why are we sitting here today?" (Nearly 40 years after a fatal stabbing, an arrest.)

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