DJ pleads guilty to murdering school teacher in 1992

Lancaster

A disc jockey has admitted to killing a Lancaster County school teacher Christy Mirack 26 years ago.

Raymond Rowe, 50, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder, three counts of rape, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and one count of burglary.

Rowe was sentenced immediately to life without parole and a consecutive prison term of 60-120 years as part of a negotiated agreement. He faced a possible death penalty if the case had gone to trial. Jury selection was scheduled to begin in May.

Mirack, 25, was a sixth-grade teacher at Rohrerstown Elementary School when she was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted in her East Lampeter Township home on Dec. 21, 1992. 

“This case certainly has riveted our community for so long,” District Attorney Craig Stedman said. “It’s a result that’s long overdue.”

Rowe apologized to Mirack’s family in the courtroom.

“I’m sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I apologize,” he said.

Stedman said it was the first time Rowe apologized.

“What I can tell you is that he didn’t show any remorse to any investigator,” Stedman told reporters after the plea hearing. “He didn’t turn himself in before this. He could have done this if the conscience was weighing on him. He had 25 plus years to deal with that. Only he knows if he meant what he said.”

Mirack’s family and prosecutors pointed out in court that Rowe went back to his life after the killing and remained free for 26 years, longer than Mirack was alive.

“You spent the last 25 years and watched as my family pleaded for answers,” her brother, Vince Mirack, told Rowe. “You took away our joy, security, and love for a Christmas holiday that will never be the same.”

The district attorney’s office said Rowe, a disc jockey who used the professional handle DJ Freez, was linked to Mirack’s killing last year when DNA evidence from the crime scene nearly matched that of a relative who shared their DNA profile on a genealogy website.

Undercover troopers then secretly collected DNA samples from chewing gum and a water bottle Rowe used while working as a disc jockey for a May event at Smoketown Elementary School.

Prosecutors said the tests revealed Rowe’s DNA matched the crime scene DNA with “astronomical” odds that anyone else committed the crime.

The motive remains unknown.

Stedman said he can’t prove Rowe knew Mirack or that the two had previously met, but he said investigators have uncovered new evidence since the DNA results.

Stedman said friends confirmed Mirack sometimes went to the Chameleon Club, and there was a ticket stub from a recent visit in her wallet. Rowe was a disc jockey at the club on Friday nights.

Mirack was also known to sunbathe outside her apartment, and Rowe would have passed her building on the most likely route between his home and work, Stedman said.

The district attorney additionally disclosed for the first time that three “peeping tom” incidents were reported at Mirack’s apartment building, and on the day she was murdered, several witnesses reported seeing a white Toyota Celica or small coupe parked along the road close to her building.

Rowe drove a white 1988 Toyota Celica at the time.

This story has been corrected to show that Rowe drove a 1988 Toyota Celica instead of a 1998 model.

Andrew Forgotch contributed to this report.

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