GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The suspect in a 1990s cold-case murder has been identified, according to Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller.
Genevieve “Jenny” Zitricki was found raped and strangled in Greenville in April 1990.
According to a Greenville Police Department news release, Zitricki’s death is believed to be the first in a series of violent murders of other women, as well as children, across three states over a 10-year period.
Greenville Police said the suspect was identified as the now-deceased Robert Eugene Brashers. He reportedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Jan. 19, 1999.
Robert Eugene Brashers
The announcement comes as a result of law enforcement using a company — Parabon NanoLabs, based in Virginia — that specializes in “genetic genealogy,” which utilizes DNA testing in combination with genetic analysis to establish a relationship between a person and their ancestors.
Investigators said they got DNA samples from Brashers’ surviving family members and his remains were exhumed on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Paraguold, Arkansas, pursuant to a court order.
They took his DNA and it matched the suspect’s DNA in multiple crimes across several states, including Zitricki’s murder.
Zitricki’s body was found inside her Hidden Lake Apartment (now Lakeside Place Apartments) on April 6, 1990.
She was found lying in a bathtub by maintenance workers after she didn’t report for work for two days.
The coroner’s officer determined she died two days earlier from blunt force injuries to her head and strangulation.
Detectives later determined that she was sexually assaulted.
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They said the first floor apartment patio faced the community pool and the killer forced his way into her apartment via the sliding glass door.
Brashers attacked Zitricki while she slept and then left a threatening message on her mirror, presumably to provide cover for the suspect, according to police.
Police said Brashers lived in an apartment at 25 Pelham Road, now known as The Park at Benito, which is less than a mile from Jenny’s apartment.
They said there is no evidence that she had any connection with Brashers.
“Today is a bittersweet moment in that we have finally been able to bring closure to the family of Jenny Zitricki,” Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said. “Time has enhanced technologies, and organizations like Parabon NanoLabs, SLED, and the FBI have filled that space with competent teams who help us revisit unsolved crimes and actually solve them.”
“Generations of detectives who worked Jenny’s murder investigation and gave all they had to solve it, including some who have returned in their retirements to continue this important work, are able to see this case now closed. But none of these efforts can bring Jenny Zitricki back. We can only hope that this day brings peace to her soul, peace to her family, and honor to her memory.”
They say DNA testing conclusively showed that whoever killed Zitricki was also linked to multiple other cases including a sexual assault on March 11, 1997 of a 14-year-old girl in Memphis Tenn., and the search of a mother and her 12-year-old daughter in Missouri in 1998.
BRASHERS’ TIMELINE OF CRIMES
Nov. 1985 – Beating and shooting a woman in Port Saint Lucie, FL. He served 3 1/2 years and released in May 1989.
April 1990 – Brutally raped and murdered Jenny Zitricki in Greenville SC.
Feb. 1992 – Possession of a Stolen Vehicle in Cobb Co., GA. Had a scanner, “police” coat, burglary tools and a fake TN license. Sentenced to prison and released in Feb. 1997.
March 1997 – Entered a home in Memphis, TN and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl.
March 1998 – Murdered Sherri Scherer and 12 year-old daughter Megan. They were shot multiple times and Megan was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.
Later that day Brashers tried to force his way into a home in Dyersburg, TN. The mother, 25, was home with a small child. She fought him and was shot. She survived and provided a description. The bullet was linked to the Scherer murders.
April 1998 – Arrested breaking in to a single woman’s home. He had previously done handyman work for her. He cut the phone lines to the home and had a gun, a video camera, and other tools. He was released from custody some time afterward.
Jan. 1999 – Brashers was found hiding under a bed with a gun at a Super 8 motel in Kennett, Missouri. After four hours of negotiations, he released multiple other people in the room. He shot himself and died six days later.
Below are composite sketches of the suspect from 2006 when the DNA match was made: