DJ who killed and raped teacher in 1992 caught after sister uploads DNA to genealogy site

Raymond Rowe jailed for life after genealogy website helps pin him to murder 26 years ago

Tom Barnes
Thursday 10 January 2019 15:08 GMT
DJ jailed for life as murder cold case solved 27 years on

A DJ has been jailed for life for the rape and murder of a schoolteacher more than 26 years ago, after DNA a relative submitted to a genealogy website finally tied him to the case.

Raymond Rowe admitted killing 25-year-old schoolteacher Christy Mirack at her apartment in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in December 1992.

The 50-year-old was sentenced to life without parole after striking a plea deal, which will see him avoid the death penalty prosecutors were initially pushing for.

“I'm sorry, sir, to the family,” the 50-year-old Rowe, who performed under the name DJ Freez, said as he faced Mirack’s brother in court. “I can't imagine what you're going through.”

The case had stumped investigators for more than a quarter of a century, until detectives uploaded DNA from the crime scene to a public genealogy database, a move which identified Rowe’s half-sister.

Further enquiries found the DJ, who in his years avoiding justice became something of a local celebrity, had lived just miles from where the killing occurred.

Undercover detectives then swooped while Rowe was performing at a school last year, collecting his used water bottle and chewing gum. His DNA matched that found on the carpet at the victim’s home.

“If not for the grace of modern technology and divine intervention, you probably would have stayed in Lancaster and basked in your fame,” the teacher's brother, Vince Mirack, told the defendant during the hearing.

He said the killing, which occurred four days before Christmas, destroyed his family's sense of security and their love of the festive season. “But most of all you took our Christy,” he added.

A motive for the killing still appears unclear, but prosecutors believe Rowe worked in an office close to Mirack’s home at the time of the murder.

Rowe will serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole (AP)
Rowe will serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole (AP) (Lancaster County District Attorney's Office)

The vehicle he owned at the time, a white Toyota, matched one that witnesses had seen at the apartment complex that morning.

While Mirack used to go to clubs where her killer worked as a DJ, it was unclear if the two knew each other, the court heard.

The website used by officers to finally identify Rowe, GEDmatch, has gained notoriety in recent months for its use as a crime-fighting tool in the US.

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Members of the public voluntarily send their DNA to the database, which users can then search to compare the amount of DNA shared between two people.

GEDmatch was used by California detectives investigating the cold case of the Golden State Killer, who committed at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across the state between 1974 and 1986.

DNA comparisons on the site eventually led investigators to former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo. The evidence now means the 73-year-old is facing 13 counts of murder and kidnapping.

Additional reporting by AP

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