Midstate DA's office creates team to review unsolved homicides

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jan 17, 2019 5:56 PM

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman announces charges in a 1992 cold case killing during a news conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lancaster, Pa., Monday, June 25, 2018. A family photo of the victim, Christy Mirack, is seen at right. A popular DJ in Pennsylvania has been charged in the 1992 killing of Mirack, an elementary school teacher who was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled in her home as she was getting ready for work. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

(Harrisburg) -- After a major break in a 26-year-old cold case, a midstate district attorney's office is organizing a new team to investigate unsolved homicides.

Encouraged by a recent guilty plea in the killing of teacher Christy Mirack, the Lancaster County District Attorney's office is creating the Unsolved Homicides Unit to review more cases.

About 40 murders in the county since 1992 remain unsolved.

Spokesman Brett Hambright said a prosecutor and three county detectives will work with area police to see which cases could benefit from the enhanced focus.

"We'll start the process shortly of sort of vetting all the existing cases now, seeing what kind of evidence we have in those cases, if [there is] any DNA, and quality of the DNA samples we have," Hambright said.

District Attorney Craig Stedman has budgeted $10,000 for DNA analysis this year, which could cover about three cases.

DNA evidence from the crime scene combined with information from a genealogy database ultimately cracked the Mirack case.

Hambright said the office can't promise this effort will lead to more break-throughs.

"It's just a matter of what sort of DNA we have, what kind of investigative work has already been done on it--on just about all of them it's a lot already--but we like to think that a fresh set of eyes and a collaboration between the investigators already on the cases and our office will possibly take the investigations even a step further," he said.

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