Solved After Nearly 30 Years: The DJ Freez/Christy Mirack Case || Dispatches from the Middle

The family of an elementary school teacher who was beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death has waited 25 years for the killer to be brought to justice. Welcome to Dispatches from the Middle. I’m your host Alexandra Stone, and this week, we’re featuring the story of Christy Mirack, and the incredible breakthrough that led to an arrest in her case a quarter of a century later. One December morning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1992, Christy Mirack didn’t show up to teach her 6th grade class. The school principal found her later that day, beaten and strangled, in her own home. Although there were many suspects, no arrests were ever made. It was very frustrating, and the longer it went, the more frustrating that it got. We were doing a good job of eliminating suspects, but we weren’t doing a very good job of actually arresting someone. Her homicide went unsolved for 2 1/2 decades until June 2018, when investigators announced the arrest of suspect Raymond Rowe, a popular DJ in Lancaster. So how did they make the connection? It started when investigators gave DNA from the crime scene to a company called Parabon NanoLabs. Parabon used the DNA to create a genetic profile and uploaded it to GEDmatch, a site that was also used in the Golden State Killer case. It’s a public website that is most commonly used to find relatives. In about half of our cases, or a little more, we can get a good enough hit that genealogy is feasible, that we can generate, maybe not the identity of a person, but significant leads for the police. Parabon was able to find someone who was a relative of the killer and traced the family tree to a potential suspect: Raymond Rowe. Also known as DJ Freez, he was a well-known member of the community. At the time of the murder, he’d been living just a few miles from Christy’s home. None of us want to believe, that we could be walking amongst, or working next to, someone who could have potentially committed such a horrible crime. This isn’t personal. It’s not about whether he’s a good DJ, or whether he’s been nice to people at any point in time. It’s like, did he kill her? And he’s got to answer for it. And the science is really, that’s the heart of this case, is science, it’s DNA. When the arrest was announced, it came as a shock and a relief to Vince Mirack, Christy Mirack’s brother and one of her only surviving relatives. My heart felt like it stopped. I mean, it was like a ton of bricks fell off my shoulders. It feels like I can breathe easier, you know? I mean, we’re not anywhere we need to be. We have a long road to go here, I know that. But, this is what we’ve wanted for so long and it’s finally here. We never got to see her… No. The priest at our church told us it’s probably best… Not to see her. Am I at peace? No, I’m not at peace. I won’t be at peace until he’s convicted and put in jail for the rest of his life. It’s not over yet. It’s close, but it’s not over yet. I was able to chat with the reporter who interviewed Vince: Meredith Jorgensen. She’s been following the case closely and has reported on many of the updates for local news station WGAL. Hi Meredith, thank you so much for joining us. I’m so happy to be here, thanks for having me. So, we want to jump right into these questions. Talk first, I mean, what impact did this revelation have on the community considering that Raymond Rowe was such a visible personality? I can’t overstate for you, how jarring this was. In Lancaster County, we have never had an arrest this significant, after this much time. This man, Ray Rowe, was a member of our community. He knew so many people in town. He knows so many people in town. His job was to be among the community, and he chose to stay in this community, which is mind-blowing to a lot of us. You’d think, if you thought that you got away with, potentially, the perfect murder, why would you stay in the community where that crime took place? And that’s one of the unanswered questions here. But, while Ray Rowe is sitting in jail, his family, you know, they’re lives have been turned upside-down. He is married, has a 12-year-old daughter. They feel like they can’t be part of this community anymore. It has rocked this community to its core. And, it’s not over yet. And you actually interviewed Christy Mirack’s brother then, Vince, and he had a very heartfelt reaction to the news, so can you talk a little bit about your interview with him and any reaction from the rest of the family? Alexandra, this was one of the most heart-wrenching interviews I’ve done in my 15-year tenure at WGAL. Vince describes his sister as young, fun-loving. She was 25 years old. She loved teaching. It was her passion, and to have that life ended in the seriously violent way it was, and then with no resolution is so heartbreaking. And, the District Attorney made a point that really stuck with Vince, and with me, which was, this man, Ray Rowe, was free longer than Christy Mirack was alive. And, that really hurts Vince Mirack’s heart. Specific to the Christy Mirack case, what is the next step for investigators? So, they’re really bearing down now. The hardest work, according to the District Attorney, starts now, which is, solidifying this case. The key question we also have is how the victim and the suspect knew each other. It’s still unknown. And that’s a big question. It’s a fascinating story, really, and hopefully, closure for the Mirack family. I mean, it’s just been a roller coaster of emotion for more than two decades and it continues with this arrest. Well, Meredith, thank you so much for talking with us about this case, and we will, of course, be looking forward to updates coming from WGAL. Thanks for your interest in it, thank you. Bye. What do you think about this case and the technology used to find the killer? Let us know your thoughts by starting a conversation in the comments. I’m Alexandra Stone and this has been your weekly dispatch. Thanks for watching. Make sure to subscribe to our channel, Stitch, for new episodes and like this video for more Dispatches from the Middle.

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