front page 2018

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated its 225th anniversary.

The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

'We caught him'

On Monday, June 25, 2018, the long mystery of who murdered schoolteacher Christy Mirack was very likely put to rest - 9,317 days after the crime was committed.

Lancaster police arrested Raymond Rowe, known professionally as “DJ Freez,” at his home. County residents, some of whom remembered Mirack and others who had heard the story told over the preceding quarter-century, were stunned. How did they get him?

And what took so long?

On the morning of Dec. 21, 1992, Mirack was found dead by strangulation in her home. In the years that followed, hundreds of suspects were interviewed, as Mirack’s parents, Vincent and Gerry, offered a $10,000 reward for information regarding the case. While family, friends and concerned citizens kept up the hunt, local police would later say that the case had gone cold before a chance email from a company called Parabon NanoLabs. Offering a service known as Parabon Snapshot Genetic Genealogy, Parabon pitched Lancaster County officers on something akin to the popular 23andMe DNA collecting service, but for potential help with cold cases.

Using a DNA sample from Mirack’s carpet the day she was murdered, police connected the familial match to Rowe.

In the quarter-century since the murder occurred, Rowe had built a successful and very visible career as a party DJ throughout Central Pennsylvania. Rowe even organized anti-violence efforts in the local hip-hop community.

Rose clearly chose not to separate himself too many miles from the scene of the crime. In 1992, Rowe lived only four miles from Mirack.

After the DNA match was discovered, Rowe’s next party gig would be a May 31, 2018, party for Smoketown Elementary Schoolers graduating to Conestoga Valley Middle School. At the event, undercover officers gathered a water bottle and chewing gum to test against the rug samples and came back with an unrelated match probability of 1 in 15 nonillion, which translates to a 1 in 15,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 chance that the DNA didn’t match.

According to District Attorney Craig Stedman, this was the first time that this type of DNA technology was used to solve a homicide case in Pennsylvania.

With dozens of unsolved homicides still on the dockets in Lancaster County, it’s only a matter of time until emerging technology leads to the resolution of another closed case.