Cops find genealogical match to link DJ to teacher’s 1992 killing
Chewing gum and genetic genealogy – the same technique used to nab the elusive Golden State Killer – led cops to nab a wedding DJ who they say killed a Pennsylvania elementary school teacher 25 years ago.
Raymond Rowe, 49, was arrested Monday in connection to the death of Christy Mirack, who was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted inside her East Lampeter home Dec. 21, 1992.
Authorities got a break in the case after DNA from semen found on Mirack’s body and at the scene was uploaded to a public genetic genealogy database — and matched one of Rowe’s relatives in Lancaster County, according to the Washington Post.
Mirack’s murder case ground to a halt after police interviewed more than 1,600 people. More than 60 men were cleared of the crime by DNA testing.
“Quite honestly at that point in time we didn’t have any more arrows in the quiver,” said Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman.
Stedman said his office’s “last shot” to solve Mirack’s murder was working with Parabon NanoLabs, which uses a database called GEDmatch.
“GEDmatch is designed to show the amount of shared DNA between two people,” Parabon NanoLabs founder and CEO Steven Armentrout explained. “That allows a genetic genealogist … to make inferences, to find distant cousins, of the person that has the unknown DNA, to build out family trees, and ultimately come up with suggestions of who might be a suspect.”
But the hit on Rowe’s relative wasn’t enough to arrest the popular local wedding DJ, whose stage name is “DJ Freez.”
So investigators surreptitiously grabbed a water bottle and chewing gum he left behind May 31 after DJing at a local elementary school.
Those items were tested against the 1992 DNA and matched one another — with a 1 in 200 octillion chance that it was someone other than Rowe who left behind DNA at the murder scene.
“This killer was at liberty from this brutal crime for longer than Christy Mirack was on this Earth alive,” Stedman told reporters. “[Parabon] steered us in the path of holding him finally accountable.”
Stedman did note, however, that the investigation “is by no means closed,” Lancaster Online reported.
Rowe’s name never came up in the case but that the DJ lived about four miles from Mirack, 25, who taught sixth grade at Rohrerstown Elementary School, in 1992, Stedman said.
He said the two may have met at a club or event before her murder.
Genetic genealogy led to the April arrest of former cop Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, who is believed to have committed dozens of rapes and murders in the 1970s and ’80s in California, earning him the nickname the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist.
Meanwhile, DNA from chewing gum also helped police in New Mexico arrest a man for murder. Joseph Gurule admitted to bludgeoning Roman Trujillo to death in January in a dispute over drug money, according to KOB4.