A 1992 murder of a 25-year-old woman may be solved after a local DJ was charged with the crime on the strength of DNA evidence, the Lancaster County DA’s office announced.
Raymond Rowe, aka “DJ Freez,” of Whittier Lane in Lancaster, was arrested on Monday and charged with the murder of Christy Mirack, which investigators linked to him after a DNA test on a pack of his chewing gum.
Mirack, a schoolteacher, was reportedly surprised by an attacker as she was preparing to go to work on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992, who bludgeoned her with a wooden cutting board, sexually assaulted her and strangled her to death, investigators found. She was found dead in her East Lampeter Township home by a coworker who went to find her after she did not report for work that day.
The case remained unsolved for 26 years, but in recent months, investigators used new technology to test DNA found at the crime scene. Parabon NanoLabs tested the evidence and developed a “genotype file,” which helped them determine the likely physical appearance of Mirack’s killer at various ages. Renderings of the suspect were released to the media in December 2017.
Investigators developed Rowe as a “strong viable suspect” after the files matched to relatives of Rowe’s in public genealogical research databases. At that point, a detective went to one of Rowe’s gigs as “DJ Freez” to obtain DNA confirmation.
“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,” the Lancaster County DA’s office said. “Testing revealed a match between that DNA and DNA found on multiple locations of Mirack’s person and on carpet underneath her dead body.”
Pennsylvania State Police tested the DNA and matched it to Mirack. They said there is a one in 200 octillion chance that it is another Caucasian suspect beyond Rowe.
Prosecutors said they’re not sure of the motive for the murder.
“We are not at a point where we are discussing or speculating about a motive. Considering the time that has passed, some specific questions about motive might never be answered publicly,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said in a press release. “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.”
Rowe was a former DJ at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club for 15 years, according to his website, and has been DJing parties since the ’90s, performing as a breakdancer prior to that. Prosecutors said without the DNA evidence, they would never have developed him as a suspect.
“We really cannot give enough credit to Parabon NanoLabs for the work they did which proved absolutely crucial to filing this charge. 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,” Stedman said. “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.”