Christy Mirack

December 20th, 1992.

Beautiful inside and out, 25 year old Christy was described by her friends as always being positive and optimistic about life. She cared deeply for her family, friends, and students whom she taught at Rohrerstown Elementary School, Lancaster County, PA. In return, she was loved and adored by everyone she encountered.

Christy Mirack

Christy Mirack

Christy was living in a three bedroom townhouse with her female roommate in East Lampeter Township. The population at the time was around 16,000, and remains similar today. The area is known as Pennsylvania Amish country, surrounded by farming communities and fields.

Christy had spent the evening preparing for the school day ahead: she had prepared Christmas presents for her 6th grade students and wrote notes to each of them. She had aspired to be a teacher since childhood, even practicing by giving play lessons to her two siblings. At the age of 25, Christy was living the life she had dreamt of as a young girl. Tragically, this life was snatched away from her in the most brutal and despicable way imaginable.

The Murder

December 21st, 1992. Christy awoke on Monday, ready for the week ahead. Her roommate had already left for work when Christy was getting ready to leave at her usual time of 7:45am. She readied herself to venture out into the cold winter breeze and gathered the gifts for her students. She barely made it outside when she was grabbed and shoved back inside of the apartment.

At 9am, as the school day was about to commence, Christy’s students waited in the classroom for her. Concerned when Christy had not arrived, Harry Goodman, the school principal, called her home. The phone rang out. When he called again after a short time, the same thing happened.

As Christy’s house was close to the school, Principal Goodman decided to go and check up on her. When Goodman arrived at the house, the door was slightly ajar. When he pushed it open, he was confronted by the terrible sight of Christy laying dead on the floor. She had been beaten, strangled and was naked from the waist down. The gifts for her students were scattered around her lifeless body.

The crime scene gave little away about Christy’s killer. There was no sign of forced entry, and Christy had been beaten with an object sourced from inside the house. DNA in the form of semen from Christy’s attacker was discovered on the carpet under Christy and on the body itself. It was subsequently collected and put into evidence. It was all the attacker had left behind, but it offered little hope at the time for investigators.

Investigation

In the years following Christy’s murder, little progress was made in the search for her killer. A description of the suspect was released to the public, as well as a description of the possible suspect’s car. No leads emerged. The police interviewed over 1,500 different suspects. Forensic tests carried out on the DNA found at the scene ruled out 60 individuals by 1995. Christy’s family continued to suffer, not knowing who could have taken their daughter and sister away so cruelly and why they did so.

In 2007, determined to keep Christy’s memory alive and encourage people to continue conversations about her, Christy’s younger brother, Vince, had a billboard put up off Route 30 in Lancaster County, appealing for any information as to what happened to Christy that terrible day. He also set up a Facebook page in 2009 for his sister, where people could share memories of her and any information regarding the case.

Vince’s billboard, 2007

Vince’s billboard, 2007

New Hope For The Case

After years of tips and leads going nowhere, investigators were struggling with where to next take the investigation into Chirsty’s murder. In March 2017, they made the decision to contract Parabon NanoLabs, a company specialising in DNA phenotyping, which is a technology used to predict an individual’s appearance based on their DNA sequence. Investigators sent semen samples found on the carpet in Christy’s home to Parabon. By November 2017, Parabon had produced approximate images of what Christy’s killer would have looked like at ages 25, 45 and 55. As these were only approximations, they did not take environmental factors into account, which may otherwise impact the appearance of an individual. Lancaster County investigators began circulating the images in the hopes that someone might recognise the individual.

Images of the likely appearance of Christy’s killer at ages 25, 45 and 55, produced by Parabon NanoLabs using DNA phenotyping.

Images of the likely appearance of Christy’s killer at ages 25, 45 and 55, produced by Parabon NanoLabs using DNA phenotyping.

May 2018. Parabon uploaded the DNA sequence of Christy’s killer to the database GEDmatch, which compares DNA sequences to find possible relatives and ancestors of an individual. Databases like GEDmatch are open to the public, in that anyone can voluntarily send their DNA and the sequence will be then be added to the database. It can then be used for various purposes, such as building family trees for genealogical purposes and in this case, helping criminal investigations.

Later in May, Parabon notified investigators in the Christy Mirack case that they had found a highly significant match to the DNA sequence on the GEDmatch database. The individual whose DNA matched was likely to be a relative of Christy Mirack’s killer.

Progress After 26 Years

Investigators researched this individual whose DNA was on the database, looking into whether they had relatives who lived in or near the area. They managed to narrow their search down to one man, 49 year old Raymond Rowe, who lived just 4 miles from where Christy had lived at the time of her murder, and would have been 24 years old in 1992.

49 year old Raymond Rowe aka. DJ Freez

49 year old Raymond Rowe aka. DJ Freez

Rowe was, in fact, something of a minor celebrity in the area. He was a DJ at both small and large clubs in and around Lancaster County, such as the Chameleon Club, which would host dance parties on Fridays with up to 800 people and Rowe providing the music. Rowe went by the name DJ Freez, and was owner of his own company, Freez Entertainment. He also ran his own ‘DJ school’ and DJ equipment rental store.

Going Undercover

The evidence provided by Parabon regarding Rowe’s involvement in the murder was not enough to convict him. It had to be taken a step further. On May 31st, Raymond Rowe was DJ’ing at a local school dance. Investigators went undercover at the function, observing Rowe as he performed. Once the event was coming to an end and Rowe was getting ready to leave, he threw away a water bottle and chewing gum, which investigators retrieved once he was gone.

The bottle and gum were taken to the lab and forensic tests were performed on them. It was found that the DNA on the items matched that found in Christy’s apartment. In fact, the odds that it was not him were 1 in 200 octillion. After 26 years, Lancaster County Police were able to make an arrest in the Christy Mirack murder.

On Monday, June 25th 2018, Raymond Rowe was arrested on one count of homicide and was not eligible for bail. Just yesterday, September 21st, Rowe’s trial date was set for next May.

Justice For Christy

Christy’s brother Vince described it as a ‘bittersweet’ day for he and his family. After 26 years of not knowing who killed Christy, the family could finally have closure. There is still no indication as to why Rowe committed this heinous crime again Christy all those years ago. At least now he will pay for his actions.

Christy’s Facebook page created by her brother Vince is still active and posted on regularly. After so many years, people still write how much they miss Christy and love her. They speak of the memories they shared with her and post pictures of good times together. Of course, I never knew Christy, but reading about her has made me feel as though I did, maybe in another life. The important thing I think is to realise that there is so much more to Christy than her horrible death. She should be remembered for her brilliant smile and glow which radiated from her and brightened the days of those around her.

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This case was so interesting to study, and I have podcast True Crime Garage to thank otherwise I never would have even known about it. It’s discussed episode 224 and 225, and Nic and the Captain do an incredible job, as always. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

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