September 12, 2023

Police Arrest NY Suspect in 1994 Murder in Apparent Cracked Cold Case

A New York man was arrested this week in a murder case that took place 29 years ago.

Stephen Smerk, 51, was charged with second-degree murder and reportedly confessed to the crime that occurred in Virginia.

"Robin Lawrence, 37, was fatally stabbed in her Springfield home on November 20, 1994. Investigators developed a DNA profile in 1994, but they were not able to match a suspect to the recovered DNA," Fox News reported.

"Fairfax County Police Department says that their detectives were determined to solve the case. They eventually found a familial DNA match to Smerk, and determined that he was working in the area where Lawrence was stabbed," it added.

"Smerk, who was an active-duty soldier at the time of the killing, allegedly confessed to committing the crime, telling investigators that the act was random, according to officials during the press conference," WSET-TV reported.

"'It was a full confession,' FCPD Chief Kevin Davis said during Monday's press conference," it added.

At the time of the woman's death in 1994, no DNA matches were found. Samples were submitted to a national registry, with the case resubmitted to Parabon NonoLabs in 2019.

The lab conducted a family tree that narrowed the options and police determined that Smerk was in the area of the murder in 1994.

Fairfax County investigators traveled to New York to speak with Smerk and request a DNA sample with the man complied with the request.

The cracked cold case offers an amazing example of ways new technology can help track down a person decades after a crime, offering hope to crack additional cold cases.


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