Genealogy Website Helps Solve 25-Year-Old Rape & Murder Case

Murdered Pennsylvania schoolteacher Christy Mirack in a family photo

ABC News Murdered Pennsylvania schoolteacher Christy Mirack in a family photo

In December 1992, a 25-year-old Pennsylvania schoolteacher named Christy Mirack was found beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted in her home. Ahead of the Dateline: NBC episode about the case, airing Saturday, June 13, and titled “Facing the Music,” here’s what you need to know about the piece of evidence that cracked the case over 25 years later.

DNA Left at the Scene Created a DNA Phenotype

Dateline Episode Trailer: Facing the MusicWhen a young schoolteacher in Pennsylvania is murdered, her friends wonder if the killer will be caught. Following years without an arrest, investigators discover a new tool that may finally help unlock the murderer’s identity. Can police work fast enough to catch the suspect? Or will the killer slip away again? Andrea Canning reports Friday,…2019-05-30T13:53:56Z

Mirack was found by a colleague on December 21, 1992, when she failed to come to school that day. She had been beaten with a wooden cutting board found near the body and strangled to death; she had also been sexually assaulted.

According to ABC News, the case went unsolved for 25 years until DNA found at the scene was used to create a DNA phenotype, which is a composite of the killer’s physical attributes like hair color, eye color, and skin tone. Prosecutors told ABC News that the DNA lab created visual composites of what the killer would have looked like at various ages and they then uploaded the file to a public genetic genealogy database. It led to matches to relatives of Raymond Rowe.

Investigators later obtained DNA from gum and a water bottle Rowe had used while DJing at a local elementary school. It was a match to the DNA found on Mirack’s body.

Rowe was arrested in June 2018. At the time, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said in a statement, ” We know that this defendant raped and brutally murdered Christy Mirack,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said in Monday’s statement. “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. 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.”

Rowe Eventually Pleaded Guilty to Mirack’s Murder

Teacher's gruesome 1992 death launches decades-long mystery: 20/20 Oct. 5 Part 1On Dec. 21, 1992, 25-year-old elementary school teacher Christy Mirack was found beaten and strangled to death in her Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, townhouse. WATCH THE FULL EPISODE OF 20/20:

In January 2019, Rowe pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, rape and related counts in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole, prosecutors told ABC News at the time. There was no motive ever cited by prosecutors, but a minor connection between Rowe and Mirack was found during the trial — she had a pass in her wallet for the Chameleon Club, which is where Rowe worked as “DJ Freez” at the time of her murder.

“We are not at a point where we are discussing or speculating about a motive. Considering the time that has past, some specific questions about motive might never be answered publicly,” District Attorney Stedman said in a statement (via Crime Watch PA). “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.”

Dateline airs Fridays and Saturdays on NBC.

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