Chewing gum helps detectives crack cold case of beloved young teacher’s murder: Report

After over 60 suspects were excluded for the 1992 murder and rape of a beloved Pennsylvania teacher, detectives may have finally found the person responsible for her death.

Washington Post reports that 25-year-old Christy Mirack, of Lancaster was brutally raped and murdered in her home on December 21, 1992. The school teacher had just finished wrapping presents for her students at Rohrerstown Elementary School the night before, ensuring each and every student would receive a copy of the book, “Miracles on Maple Hill.”

When Christy failed to arrive for class the following day, the school principal, Harry Goodman, called her. When she didn’t answer her phone, Goodman drove to Christy’s Greenfield Estates townhouse and found the front door of her residence slightly ajar. As the principal pushed the door open further, he spotted the lifeless of the young teacher lying in her living room, with her underwear and pants ripped off. The gifts she wrapped for her students were scattered about on the floor.

According to authorities, autopsy results for Christy indicated she’d been beaten and strangled to death. The suspect also raped her before fleeing the scene, leaving semen behind on the carpet. Yet, investigators couldn’t match up a suspect despite years of exhaustive work. Detectives eliminated 60 suspects after conducting over 1,000 interviews. They also collected several crucial pieces of evidence, and although at the time they had no way of linking it with a suspect, new technological advancements proved beneficial in finally nabbing a suspect.

Part of the evidence collected was items from a party at the elementary school that Christy attended, including chewing gum and a water bottle. After Reston-based Parabon NanoLabs tested the items for DNA, detectives discovered a match to a local DJ, Raymond Rowe, also known as “DJ Freez” in the Pennsylvania area.

Raymond Rowe [Police Handout]
“Quite honestly at that point in time we didn’t have any more arrows in the quiver,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said during a media briefing on Monday. “Parabon was really our last shot. Little did we know at the time, it turned out to be our best.”

Authorities connected Rowe to the crime by using the DNA lifted from chewing gum and a water bottle and used the results to create a create a genotype file, which they uploaded to GEDmatch. This in turn matched to the semen found at the crime scene, which previously yielded no results when it was ran through the the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System(CODIS).

Rowe was a 24-year-old when the crime occurred. He lived off of East Chestnut Street, only four miles 4 miles away from Mirack.

“It’s a bittersweet day for me and my family,” Christy’s brother Vince said, according to Penn Live. “Nothing can change the loss of my sister, Christy, but we can move forward in the right direction.”

The suspect was taken into custody on Monday. He’s charged with homicide.

The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Christy Mirack/Handout]