Mysterious murder case solved after 26 years by chewing gum

For more than a quarter of a century, the brutal murder of Christy Mirack (25) from Lancaster was a big mystery in the American state of Pennsylvania. Now the ‘cold case’ can finally be closed, thanks to DNA samples found in a piece of chewing gum and a bottle of water. The 50-year-old Raymond Charles Rowe, or DJ Freez, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On December 21, 1992, the body of 25-year-old Christy Mirack was found on the floor of her living room. She was suffocated, beaten with a wooden board and finally raped. Mirack was a teacher at the primary school in the neighbourhood. Before she was attacked, she was just planning to leave for work, according to the researchers. She already had her coat and gloves on, and planned that day to give Christmas gifts to her students and colleagues.

Several DNA samples were collected from the possible killer, but they could not be matched to known profiles. The detectives stood for a mystery.

Half-sister found
In 2017 there was suddenly a shot in the case. The DNA samples of the killer were sent to GEDmatch two years ago, a public database with DNA material. Anyone who wants to can voluntarily store their DNA, making the database invaluable to scientists and detectives. In the database one partial match was found with a possible relative of the killer. It was about the DNA of a woman: the half-sister of the 50-year-old Raymond Charles Rowe.

©AP – The public prosecutor announces the breakthrough in the cold case around the murder of Christy Mirack (25) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Chewing gum

Rowe was quickly tracked down in the same region where Christy was murdered all those years ago. To prove that his DNA was found at the site of the murder, detectives only needed recent samples. They managed to get rid of a piece of gum and a bottle of water that Rowe had used just before during a DJ session at a school.

The DNA of the chewing gum and the bottle matched the samples found 26 years ago. In June Rowe was arrested at home, barely a few kilometres from the place of the murder.

During the interrogation, it became clear what had happened on the day of the murder. Rowe was driven to the Mirack apartment by car, a white Toyota that was seen by witnesses. There he forced the door and attacked the woman. It is still not certain why he just caught sight of her.

©AP – Raymond Charles Rowe.


Yesterday, Rowe was sentenced to a life sentence in court, with no chance of early release for the murder and rape of Christy Mirack. He showed remorse during his trial. “I’m sorry, sir, to the family”, he addressed the present family members. “I cannot imagine where you are going.” Brother Vince Mirack is satisfied with the verdict. “I can only hope that the rest of your life is as painful for you as the last 26 years were for my family”, it sounded.

CNN, The Guardian
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