“I’ve searched for who could do such a horrific thing. Who could do something so heinous to another person and walk away with no regret. Now I know who.”
-Vince Mirack, Christy's Brother
It was the 21st of December 1992. A Monday. Four days before Christmas. Twenty five year old Christy Mirack was excited. She couldn't wait to go to work that day. Christy worked as a teacher at the Rohrerstown Elementary School. It was a job she wanted since she was a child and she had role played teacher and student with her brother and sister when they were young. When she got a role as a substitute teacher in the school, she was quickly offered a more full time position as it was evident she was perfect for the job. Christy loved the students and they loved her. She treated her class, the sixth grade, with respect and looked forward to teaching them new things every day. That day, the 21st of December, Christy had all of their christmas gifts wrapped and ready to hand them out to the students when she got to school. So when she didn't arrive at school that morning, everyone was concerned.
Christy lived in a Greenfield Estates apartment with a roommate in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States. She had not lived there long. Christy was from Shamokin, Pennsylvania but moved to Lancaster for her teaching job. Christy was an early riser, she got up most days at 6 am to make breakfast and watch the news. Normally, her roommate would leave for work every morning at 7 am and Christy would leave at 7.45 am. When Christy didn't show up at work, the principal of the school, Harry Goodman, was worried and called her five times. There was no answer to any of the calls so he called Christy's mother to ask if she had heard from her. She had not spoken to her that morning so Harry drove to Christy's apartment to see if she was there.
Christy Mirack's Apartment
When Harry arrived at Christy's apartment, her car was parked outside and the door was open and he immediately observed there had been some sort of a disturbance at the property. Even though there were no signs of forced entry into the property, the place was in disarray inside and looked like a struggle had taken place. The gifts that Christy had wrapped were scattered all over the living room and Harry found Christy lying on the living room floor.
Harry ran to the next apartment complex to seek help and he called 911. He screamed "her face". Harry told 20/20:
“I told the police what I saw, but I've never told anybody else what I walked in on. I struggled for years with this. Screaming, nightmares.”
She had been savagely beaten. It was a brutal and horrific attack. When police arrived, they found Christy on the floor of the living room and confirmed that she was dead. She was wearing her coat and gloves but her underwear had been removed and her top pushed up. She had been raped. Police believed that a wooden cutting board found near Christy's body was used to savagely beat her.
The Autopsy revealed there were injuries to her neck , back, face and chest. Most of the injuries were to her face and neck. Her jaw was broken. Police believed that Christy may have used the wooden cutting board in an attempt to protect herself but the perpetrator overpowered her and took it from her and used it against her. After she was raped and viciously beaten, Christy had been strangled to death with her own sweater.
A DNA profile was obtained from semen found inside Christy's home. DNA was found on her body and in blood drops on the carpet inside her apartment.
As there was no forced entry, police believed that Christy was either expecting somebody that morning or let someone in or someone forced their way in past her when she opened the door. She was wearing her coat and gloves and had the gifts inside the bag ready so police believed she was about to leave for work so estimated that she was attacked after the roommate left at 7am and before 7.45am, the time that Christy normally left for work.
Even though police found DNA inside the apartment, there were no matches on the database and DNA was not as advanced in 1992 as it is now so police had to look at different leads. But there were not a lot of leads to look at. They quickly ruled out the principal, men known to Christy and an older man she had been discreetly dating.
A woman walking in the area that morning told police that she saw a man get out of a car and walk towards Christy's apartment around 7am. She described him as being in his late 20s, 225 to 250 pounds, stocky, muscular build, long, stringy, medium-brown hair that hung to his chest, clean shaven, deep set eyes. She said that he was wearing a blue, white and black, faded shirt and blue jeans.
Others saw the car across the street from the apartment and they described it as a white vehicle with black louvers covering the rear window, similar to a Dodge Daytona.
But despite a search for the car and the man the witness saw, the case went cold due to lack of any further leads or evidence until 2015 when Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman opened the case in an effort to re-examine the DNA based on further advances in DNA testing since 1992. He said:
"I think it was the appropriate time to get some fresh eyes. We took the entire file and the evidence and started again from the ground up.”
That fresh look led to CeCe Moore, a genealogist who has solved multiple cold cases such as naming the Golden State Killer with new genealogical technology, helping with the new investigation. Along with Parabon NanoLabs, she uploaded the DNA that was found on Christy and inside her apartment to a database called GEDMatch. GEDmatch is a website that connects family members via DNA. Family members who want to research their family tree and connect with relatives they never knew they had voluntarily upload their DNA in the database. CeCe found several distant family members connected to the DNA found at Christy's apartment and began to build out the family tree:
"I built back to great-grandparents of each of the second cousins and then I started building forward. I flipped that tree upside down, do what I call ‘reverse genealogy.’ I’m building forward in time trying to find the right person and the right place with the right ancestral mix to be the subject.”
CeCe then narrowed her search down to a target family in Lancaster who were of northern European descent with some Puerto Rican heritage. She looked up newspaper articles from the Lancaster area to see if there was any mention of any of the family members from the target family:
" I started digging into newspaper archives from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and I finally came across an engagement announcement for a man who was the son of a woman from that target family, and he was carrying her maiden name. However, it listed his father, who had a Latin American name, and I thought, 'Aha. Now we're getting close'."
CeCe kept searching through magazines and newspapers and found an online magazine that had an interview with a man. The man said that he was half Puerto Rican and CeCe believed she found Christy's killer.
But while the research and work led to a man being found, police needed to test his DNA to ensure with all certainty that he was a match. Police followed the man for some time and on one occasion, he played a DJ gig at a school. Afterwards, they collected a water bottle and gum that he threw away and obtained his DNA from them. The DNA was a match. The man was forty nine year old Raymond Charles Rowe. He was arrested in June 2018.
Raymond lived in Lancaster for many years and was well known in the area. He was even a bit of a celebrity of sorts as he worked as a DJ at all of the Weddings and events in the area. He was a married man, a father, had a successful career and went to Church every week. Did the police have the right man?
Police did not find any evidence that Raymond and Christy knew each other. But they discovered that Raymond worked for a ServiceMaster office near Christy's apartment at the time of the murder. He lived just four miles from her home. The Toyota that he drove at the time of Christy's murder matched the description of the one witnesses saw at the apartment complex. No evidence emerged that they knew each other but he would have had to drive past her apartment every day from his home to the office so he may have seen her multiple times. Christy was known to sunbathe with her roommate at the time and they would sit facing the street. Anyone driving by could have seen her.
Raymond also worked as a DJ at the time of Christy's murder too and police found a ticket to the Chameleon Club in Christy's possession after she was killed. Raymond would DJ at that very club every Friday so they could have met at the club the Friday night before she was murdered or Raymond could have observed her there.
Based on the DNA evidence, Raymond was arrested and charged with rape and murder.
Raymond's Attorney, Patricia Spotts, said Raymond admitted to her that he killed Christy:
“There is nothing we can say to make the community feel better about this case. We can only hope the community and Christy's family find some comfort in the person who did it taking responsibility.”
Raymond agreed to plead guilty in exchange for Prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. Prosecutors believed the death penalty was warranted but their main focus was to ensure Raymond would never leave prison alive and that was accomplished with the sentence. Prosecutors declined to cite a motive citing the amount of time that had passed:
Christy Mirack with her brother and mother
The District Attorney, Craig Stedman, described the murder as an “absolute, remorseless horror” committed by a “deviant and a coward.” He told the Court that:
“It was pretty clear from the scene that Christy was surprised and fought for her life. Unfortunately, she failed.”
The Court heard that after the murder, Raymond went back to his life as if nothing happened. On the same day he raped and murdered Christy, the 21st of December, he went to the home of his fiancee, Monica Whalen, and seemed to be his normal self. She had no idea of the horror that had just unfolded. When news about Christy's murder broke, Raymond even told Monica that he was worried about her safety. Monica told Dateline:
“You just don’t know what to think. I mean, he slept on my bed that night. You know, we had Christmas four days later. And we got married months later.”
He continued working as a DJ, known as DJ Freez. He deejayed for celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Brooke Hogan and events featuring Sting and The Eagles. Raymond lived a successful, happy life and married four times. He was a father too. Nobody had ever suspected him of being involved in Christy's murder.
Raymond pleaded guilty to first degree murder, rape and related counts in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole, with a consecutive sentence of 60 to 120 years.
Christy’s brother, Vince Mirack, spoke directly to Raymond and asked him:
“If not for the grace of modern technology and divine intervention, you probably would have stayed in Lancaster and basked in your fame. But most of all you took our Christy. The question I have to ask you is, Why?”
Raymond did not answer him or provide any explanation as to why he murdered Christy that morning. Christy’s father had planned to address the Court too but he collapsed in tears and could not address the Court.
Raymond spoke in Court only to tell Christy's family:
“I can’t imagine what you are going through. I apologize."
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman summed up why, apart from the horrific rape, beating and murder, this case is truly frightening:
“It is chilling. It is haunting that he could just compartmentalize this and go back to literally enjoying his life.”
And that's one of the most troubling aspects. That someone can do something so horrific and then seemingly just compartmentalize it and go on and live their lives as if it was something that they had played no part in at all.
Prior to his arrest for Christy's murder, Raymond had only come to the attention of the police once for a very minor offense. In 2001, he faced a charge for disorderly conduct after he played music too loudly while DJing at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club. The charges were dismissed.
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"When someone just disappears for no reason, it's shocking, it's devastating. I just feel like my life stopped that day and I've just been in a tailspin ever since."
- Adam Vaughan, Janine's brother
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