A Pennsylvania wedding DJ admitted Tuesday to raping and strangling to death an elementary school teacher whose 26-year cold case was solved with help from DNA submitted to a genealogy database by his half-sister.
In court Tuesday, Raymond Rowe, 50, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Christy Mirack, online court records show.
Rowe went by the stage name DJ Freez and claimed on his now-defunct website he worked as a DJ for celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Brooke Hogan, as well as at events featuring Sting, The Eagles and Kenny Kravitz.
He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“It’s a result that is long overdue,” Lancaster District Attorney Craig Stedman said, local TV station WHTM reports.
A beloved sixth-grade teacher at Rohrerstown Elementary School, Mirack was found dead in her home on Dec. 21, 1992.
She was strangled to death with her own sweater, authorities say, after being beaten beyond recognition and sexually assaulted.
Police found DNA from her assailant at the crime scene but for decades could not find a match.
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That changed when investigators tapped into a database on the genealogy website GEDmatch — the same publicly accessible site that helped capture the suspect in the Golden State Killer case involving a man suspected of dozens of killings and rapes in California in the 1970s and ’80s.
Rowe’s half-sister had at one time uploaded her DNA to the site, which linked her to the DNA sample found at the scene, which led them to focus on Rowe, say authorities.
In May 2018, undercover investigators collected used chewing gum and a water bottle Rowe used while working as a DJ at an event at a school, Stedman said at the time. Police concluded the DNA found in the gum and bottle matched the DNA taken from the scene, he said.
Rowe was arrested on June 25, 2018, at his home in Lancaster County.
Authorities still do not know why Rowe targeted Mirack or if they even knew each other, the DA said.
Rowe apologized to the family in court, the Associated Press reports.
During the hearing, Mirack’s brother spoke directly to Rowe, saying, “If not for the grace of modern technology and divine intervention, you probably would have stayed in Lancaster and basked in your fame,” The New York Times reports.
The murder stole so much from his family, he said. “But most of all you took our Christy.