(Sound from the New Madrid County news conference is courtesy of Missourinet television partner KFVS)
Missouri state troopers say a now-deceased serial killer was responsible for the 1998 killings of a mother and daughter in southeast Missouri’s Portageville, as well as the gruesome rape and murder of a South Carolina woman in 1990.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control (DDCC) joined New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens for a Friday morning news conference, to make the announcement.
Sheriff Stevens describes the murders of 38-year-old Sherri and 12-year-old Megan Scherer as one of the most heinous crimes in New Madrid County history.
“No telling how many hours have been put into this investigation,” Stevens says. “I have no doubt in my mind that this is the most heavily investigated case this county has ever seen.”
Stevens says a serial killer named Robert Brashers is responsible for all three murders, including the South Carolina death.
He says Brashers killed himself during a 1999 standoff with law enforcement officers in the Bootheel town of Kennett.
During that standoff, Kennett police learned that Brashers had active warrants from an April 12, 1998 incident in Paragould, Arkansas, where he had been arrested for trying to break into the home of a single woman.
That April incident was about two weeks after Sherri and Megan Scherer had been killed.
Missouri state troopers are crediting a DNA technology company called Parabon for helping to solve the Scherer murders.
Sheriff Stevens says Parabon’s technology identified Brashers as the suspect.
“Make no mistake about this gentleman, he is a serial rapist and a serial killer, but no more,” Stevens told reporters at the New Madrid County Courthouse.
Investigators say Brashers’ remains were exhumed on September 27, pursuant to a court order. They say that additional DNA samples were collected and that lab testing confirmed that Brashers’ DNA matched the suspect DNA in the Portageville murders, the 1990 South Carolina murder and the 1997 rape of a 14-year-old Tennessee girl.
As Sheriff Stevens and Missouri state troopers held their Friday morning news conference, law enforcement officers in Greenville, South Carolina held a separate news conference.
The “Greenville News” notes that Brashers was convicted of attempted second degree murder in 1986 in Florida, and served just three-and-a-half years in prison before being released in 1989.
Less than a year after being released from prison, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller says Brashers killed 28-year-old Genevieve Zitricki.
“He attacked her as she slept,” Chief Miller told South Carolina reporters on Friday. “He bludgeoned her, strangled her and sexually assaulted her.”
The “Greenville News” reports authorities in multiple states are now taking a closer look at Brashers in other cold cases.
The murder cases were profiled on “America’s Most Wanted.”
DDCC Sergeant Shawn Griggs praises what he describes as a coordinated effort between multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, all working together to bring resolution to the victims’ families.
Griggs notes that Missouri state troopers have been in contact with the Scherer family.
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