LANCASTER, Pa. – The man charged this week with strangling a young elementary school teacher in 1992 and built a thriving business as a DJ that he is regularly in front of children, and it was at a school gig last month that detectives secretly restored one of the most important pieces of evidence they used to make an arrest of chewed gum.
Raymond Charles Rowe, 49, is being held without bail in the killing of the 25-year-old Christy Mirack at her home in a crime that had hampered researchers to genealogical research led them to the man who is known professionally as DJ Freez.
With genetic material from the scene of the crime, the authorities were able to a close relative of the unknown suspect, leaving Rowe in the visor. Rowe had lived just a few miles from Mirack at the time she was murdered, although it is unclear whether they knew each other.
The police sent an undercover team last month to a school where Rowe run, collect used bottle of water and chewed gum. The police said that they matched the DNA from the items to the crime scene.
Rowe has no attorney listed in the court documents and his work phone number is no longer taking messages. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 July.
He had a long career as a DJ began even before the sixth class was found raped, beaten and strangled in her home as she was ready for work.
Just four months before the murder, he was the DJ for a “Stop the Violence” event in the centre of Lancaster.
“I love working with children,” Rowe told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal two years later, in a story about an outdoor dance party for teens. “This is my natural environment. I am very familiar with the city, children and pretty much grew up playing the songs for teenagers.”
Prosecutors have not said whether Rowe is being investigated in connection with other crimes.
He was widely admired by his competitors, who were shocked by the news of his arrest.
“I’ve always known him as an honest guy,” said Josh Bogner, co-owner of a company that is also suitable for weddings and events in central Pennsylvania. “Everyone I know who uses him has always had nothing but good things to say about him.”
Rowe went to the public high school in Lancaster but left in 1988 without a degree, later obtaining a general equivalency diploma and going to work for a cleaning and janitorial service. The online biography on his website says that he is a break dancer in the 1980s, then won the local DJ battles for hosting regular dance parties at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club.
For a time he used a shop in the centre of Lancaster, the sale of recorded music, clothing and DJ equipment. His site includes a list of events that he has worked in New York and regular appearances on the local radio stations.
Rowe called police officers and officials about a July 2001 raid on the Chameleon Club, claimed his civil rights were violated. The lawsuit said he was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after the decline of the music. His criminal charges were resolved through a program for first time offenders and the federal civil rights lawsuit was settled out of court.
Kahlil Celotto-Edwards, a friend of Rowe’s for 20 years, met him through the club scene.
Rowe has always been “a great advocate for the first responders,” the offering of discounts, and appear at charity events, he said.
“He would post things regularly on its web pages, saying: hey, this is something that I am proud to do for our workers,” Celotto-Edwards said.
He played at high school proms and weddings throughout central Pennsylvania. When he hit his 100th marriage during the last calendar year, he has apart of the couple’s fee.
“He was very kind, very professional,” said Michele Perron, hospitality director at The Booking House, a regional location. “We were in shock, and very sad to hear this news.”
Perron ‘ s daughter had hired him for her own wedding this Saturday.
AP writer Alexandra Villarreal in Philadelphia, and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.