The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, along with the numerous agencies and investigators who have contributed to the case over the years, announce charges filed today in the 1992 murder of Christy Mirack.
Lancaster County Detective Christopher Erb charged 49-year-old Raymond Rowe with criminal homicide regarding Mirack’s death.
Rowe, of Whittier Lane, Lancaster, was arrested at his home Monday afternoon. He is to be arraigned later in the day. Defendants charged with homicide in Pennsylvania are not eligible for bail.
Rowe uses the professional handle, “DJ Freez,” in regards to his entertainment company. That is relevant to the investigation for reasons stated below.
He is presumed innocent.
“To say this is a major development would be quite the understatement. It is a huge step toward providing long-overdue closure for Christy’s family and friends who have spent decades wondering who brutally murdered their loved one,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said. “We must also remember this is one step in the process. We all must keep in mind the presumption of innocence for all individuals charged with a crime Pennsylvania. The next steps will be taken in court.”
Lancaster County Detective Larry Martin assisted Detective Erb as lead investigators in the case, with oversight from District Attorney Stedman, First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen, and Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson.
Mirack, 25, was found dead in her East Lampeter Township townhome on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992. She had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted.
A number of agencies – to include East Lampeter Township police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – investigated the case before the Lancaster County Detectives, who work under District Attorney Craig Stedman, took over jurisdiction in 2016.
During that time, detectives commissioned multiple investigative tactics using DNA evidence left at the murder scene, not previously employed in the case.
Specifically, the DNA evidence was submitted to Parabon NanoLabs and a genotype file was generated. Using this file, Parabon created a DNA phenotype “composite” of the killer’s attributes, including hair and eye color and skin tone. The phenotype report included visual composites of what the killer would look like at various ages. That data and associated composites were released to the public in November 2017.
Based on Parabon’s recommendation, detectives subsequently authorized Parabon to upload the genotype file to a public, genetic genealogy database, which resulted in matches to relatives of Raymond Rowe. Parabon’s genealogical research determined that Rowe was a “strong viable suspect.”
On May 31, investigators obtained DNA surreptitiously from Rowe, from chewing gum and a water bottle Rowe used while working as a disc jockey at an event at Smoketown Elementary School.
That DNA was submitted to a Pennsylvania State Police crime lab. Testing revealed a match between that DNA and DNA found on multiple locations of Mirack’s person and on carpet underneath her dead body.
“We really cannot give enough credit to Parabon NanoLabs for the work they did which proved absolutely crucial to filing this charge,” District Attorney Stedman said. “Without their work and expertise, quite frankly, we would not be standing here today with the alleged killer of Christy Mirack charged and in custody.”
The following is additional background on the crime and more a detailed narrative of investigative steps taken:
Mirack, a teacher, was found on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992, when she did not report to school. A staff member of the school went to her home and found her on the floor of her living room. The staff member went to a neighboring home and called 9-1-1.
First-responders arrived and determined Mirack was deceased. She was wearing a coat and gloves, indicating she was leaving for work when she was confronted by an intruder. A wooden cutting board, a weapon used in the killing, was near Mirack’s body.
Mirack’s roommate told police that she left about 7 a.m. for work and that Mirack was still home at that time. Mirack typically left for work about 7:30 a.m., the roommate told police. The roommate reported that Mirack was getting ready for work that day, as she would any other day.
Also, two neighbors in the housing community told police they were walking near Mirack’s home that morning and heard a high-pitched, unexpected scream from the home between 7:10 and 7:20 a.m.
A day after Mirack was found, a forensic pathologist performed an autopsy and determined:
- There was severe blunt force trauma to Mirack’s neck, back, upper chest and face;
- Mirack sustained bruising, her jaw was fractured, and she had been strangled;
- There was evidence that Mirack was sexually assaulted, and numerous sample swabs were collected;
Mirack’s death was ruled a homicide, caused by strangulation.
“We are not at a point where we are discussing or speculating about a motive. Considering the time that has past, some specific questions about motive might never be answered publicly,” District Attorney Stedman said. “I can say, in consideration of all the information and evidence – to include the DNA found at the scene – we know that this defendant raped and brutally murdered Christy Mirack.”
DNA collected from Mirack’s person and the scene was submitted to the PSP lab, where a DNA profile was generated. That profile was entered into a national database, but did not result in a match.
In 2016, when Lancaster County Detectives had jurisdiction of the case, they consulted with Parabon NanoLabs.
Following the phenotype work and genetic genealogy testing of the same DNA, Parabon submitted the following information to Lancaster County Detectives on May 14, 2018:
- Matches had been made in the case from the suspect sample submitted;
- The matches were of relatives of the suspect, who had voluntarily submitted their DNA to a publically-available genealogy database;
- Parabon’s head genealogist, CeCe Moore, conducted the detailed ancestral and genealogical analysis of this submission and determined that Raymond C. Rowe was a strong candidate source of the unknown DNA found at the crime scene.
Regarding the comparison between Rowe’s DNA (collected at the Smoketown Elementary event) and the DNA found at the crime scene, state police lab experts stated there is:
- A 1 in 200 octillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, of the Caucasian population;
- A 1 in 15 nonillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, from the African American population;
- A 1 in 74 octillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, from the Hispanic population.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; email@example.com; Twitter: @BrettHambright