Raymond Rowe has confessed to the 1992 rape and murder of a popular teacher, a case that was cracked after his sister uploaded DNA to a public genealogy website.
Rowe had been arrested last year for the brutal slaying of 25-year-old Christy Mirack more than 25 years ago, and this week pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a plea bargain that will have him sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. As People magazine reported, the case had long gone unsolved after Mirack was found dead in her Pennsylvania home, having been strangled with her sweater and beaten so badly that police did not recognize her.
In the years that followed the murder, Raymond Rowe made a name for himself as a popular DJ and even claimed to work for celebrities including Paris Hilton and Brooke Hogan, daughter of wrestling legend Hulk Hogan.
Police had DNA from Rowe’s rape, but it was not until they searched the genealogy website GEDmatch that they found a link to Rowe’s half-sister. The tip led them to Rowe, and they obtained his DNA by collecting a piece of gum he discarded while working as a DJ at a school event. The DNA was a match, and Rowe was arrested in June 2018.
At his court appearance this week, Rowe apologized to Mirack’s family for what they had gone through in the past 26 years awaiting justice for their daughter’s brutal murder.
The victim’s family also expressed anger, with Mirack’s brother saying Rowe likely would have gotten away with it were it not for his sister’s interest in their family genealogy.
“If not for the grace of modern technology and divine intervention, you probably would have stayed in Lancaster and basked in your fame,” he said (via the New York Times).
According to police, Rowe likely could have gotten away with the murder had it not been for his sister’s DNA curiosity. Rowe reportedly never raised suspicions of police in the decades that followed Mirack’s murder.
Raymond Rowe’s murder conviction was not the only decades-old cold case to be solved with DNA evidence in recent months. Police in California were able to apprehend the Golden State Killer, a man who raped more than 50 women killed at least a dozen people, using the same genealogy website as the one that caught Rowe. As ABC News reported, police in other parts of the country have turned to DNA databases and even used public genealogy websites to match suspects to long-unsolved crimes that had DNA evidence.