27 Years for Christy Mirack

Cold case solved with the help of genealogy

Emily Willis, Staff Reporter

     25-year-old sixth grade teacher Christy Mirack was raped and murdered on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992 in her apartment in Lancaster, PA. There were minimal leads, and, although DNA was found at the crime scene, the technology available at the time was not advanced enough to identify the culprit. For 27 years, the case went unsolved.

     In 2015, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman opened the case again in an effort to re-examine the DNA.

     “I think it was the appropriate time to get some fresh eyes,” Stedman said in an interview with “20/20.” “We took the entire file and the evidence… and started again… from the ground up.”

     Several years passed without new evidence. CeCe Moore, a genealogist who has solved multiple cold cases, such as naming the Golden State Killer, with new genealogical technology became invested in the case. Herself and Parabon NanoLabs uploaded the killer’s DNA to a database called GEDMatch, which was designed to connect family members. They found several distant family members and could also identify some aspects of the killer’s heritage, such as European and Puerto Rican.

     “I built back to great-grandparents of each of the second cousins and then I started building forward,” Moore said in an interview with ”20/20”. “I flipped that tree upside down — do what I call ‘reverse genealogy.’ I’m building forward in time trying to find the right person and the right place with the right ancestral mix to be the subject.”
Moore examined newspaper articles for connections to the family, and came across an engagement announcement for the man from the target family. To ensure that the DNA match was correct, investigators collected a water bottle and gum that the suspect threw away to match their DNA.

     The DNA was a match. It belonged to 49-year-old Raymond Charles Rowe, commonly known by his DJ name, “DJ Freez”. He was arrested on June 25, 2018. Local community members claim that they were shocked. Rowe was a well-known DJ around the area, as well as a husband and church-goer.

     A connection between Rowe and Mirack is unknown, but Mirack’s family does not believe that she would let a stranger into her apartment. Investigators are hoping to find this connection before Rowe’s trial in May of 2019.