Virginia police have announced a significant breakthrough in a nearly 30-year-old cold case, with the arrest of 51-year-old Stephan Smerk for the 1994 murder of 37-year-old Robin Lawrence.
On November 20, 1994, Lawrence was found fatally stabbed in her Springfield home, her 2-year-old daughter discovered unharmed in another room. The case went cold until recently when advanced genetic genealogy analysis led investigators to Smerk. A consensual DNA sample and a subsequent full confession were obtained from Smerk at his New York residence, police disclosed.
In 1994, Smerk served on active duty in the army, stationed at the nearby Fort Myer base, yet had no known connection to the victim. Police Chief Kevin Davis described the crime scene as “particularly gruesome”, even noting that Smerk had chosen Lawrence seemingly at random. Remarkably, Smerk had no previous arrest record and was not suspected in any similar crimes. Currently held in New York, he awaits extradition to Virginia.
This arrest marks a culmination of extensive work by the Fairfax and Niskayuna police departments, utilizing technology from Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based DNA technology company, to develop a family tree from the DNA profile retrieved from the crime scene in 1994. Smerk, now a software engineer, surprisingly cooperated, even initiating contact to confess further, leading authorities to feel strongly about the potential for successful prosecution in Fairfax County.
The victim’s family thanked the police departments for their persistence and dedication to the case, expressing eagerness to understand the next steps in the legal process. Details on Smerk’s legal representation remain unclear at this time.