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Niskayuna man charged in 1994 Virginia homicide

Fairfax County, VA – A significant breakthrough in a decades-old cold case has led to the arrest of Stephan Smerk, who now faces charges of murder in connection with the 1994 death of 37-year-old Robin Lawrence in Springfield, Virginia.

Robin Lawrence was tragically found deceased in her Springfield home on November 20, 1994. The discovery of her lifeless body came as a shock, and her 2-year-old daughter was present in the house at the time of the incident but thankfully was unharmed.

The case had remained unsolved for nearly three decades, leaving many unanswered questions about the circumstances of her death. Initial investigations revealed no signs of forced entry, theft, or sexual assault, making the case particularly challenging to resolve. However, crucial evidence was collected during the original investigation, including DNA samples.

Despite efforts to identify the perpetrator at the time, investigators were unable to find a match for the recovered DNA in any existing databases. The case remained open but unsolved for many years, with a lingering question of motive.

In recent years, advancements in DNA technology provided renewed hope for uncovering answers in this long-standing cold case. A familial match in the DNA evidence led investigators to Stephan Smerk, who, at the time of the incident, was reportedly serving in the Army at Fort Myer, now known as Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

To enhance their investigation, Fairfax County Police collaborated with a DNA technology company specializing in DNA phenotyping and genetic genealogy analysis. These advanced techniques allowed investigators to predict physical appearances and biological relationships from unidentified DNA evidence. Composite images of Smerk were created and compared to photos of him from 1988 and 1998, leading to new leads in the case.

Detectives ultimately traveled to Niskayuna, where the case began to come together rapidly. Chief Kevin Davis of the Fairfax County Police Department recounted how detectives approached Smerk while he was disposing of trash. They requested a DNA swab, which he willingly provided. Later that day, Smerk voluntarily contacted the detectives and expressed his desire to speak with them.

Smerk subsequently went to the Niskayuna police station, where he confessed to the crime, according to law enforcement officials. Chief Davis revealed that Smerk discussed the details of Robin Lawrence’s tragic death during this confession.

Authorities have not yet confirmed whether Smerk’s DNA sample matches the one collected at the crime scene. Smerk, who has no known criminal history, is currently held at the Schenectady County jail while awaiting extradition to Fairfax County.

At the time of her passing, Robin Lawrence served as the director of promotion and merchandising at Merchant’s Tire and Auto Center in Manassas. A Syracuse native, she graduated from Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts, leaving behind cherished memories and a legacy that friends and family have carried in their hearts for nearly three decades.

The breakthrough in this cold case has brought a glimmer of hope and closure to the community that has mourned Robin Lawrence’s loss for so many years. As the legal proceedings continue, authorities remain committed to ensuring justice for her memory and her loved ones.

For More Information :

https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/niskayuna-man-charged-1994-virginia-homicide-18360666.php

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