Serial Killer-Rapist Identified Via DNA Technology

By Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
October 7, 2018 Updated: October 7, 2018

A man responsible for multiple attacks and murders across the southeast in the 1980s and 90s was identified after a lab used the latest “genealogy” DNA test.

Those DNA tests confirm that Robert Eugene Brashers, who died in a police shootout in 1999, was responsible for numerous attacks, sexual assaults, and murders.

Greenville, South Carolina Police Chief Ken Miller announced the DNA test results at a press conference on Oct. 5, Fox News reported.

Brashers had been convicted and jailed for beating and shooting a woman in Port St. Lucie, Florida in 1985. He was released on May 4, 1989.

On April 4, 1990, Brashers started a nine-year crime spree that spanned three states, by raping and murdering a 28-year-old South Carolina woman named Genevieve “Jenny” Zitricki.

That crime was the first of several which have all resolved using the DNA test.

Zitricki’s brother, Phillip, expressed his gratitude for law enforcement’s effort at the press conference.

“28 years,” he said. “28 years. It’s been a long time.

“It’s been time enough for trails to go cold, for memories to fade, and for connections to fray and sever. It’s almost been time enough to give up hope.

“But the men and women of this outstanding organization in concert with professionals from other long jurisdictions never gave up. They never wavered. They never forgot their promise.”

Hopefully, identifying Brasher as the perpetrator will bring closure to many victims’ families.

A Crime of Opportunity

In 1990, Jenny Zitricki was a recent divorcée living in apartment complex near a community pool. People frequently used the pool as a place to hold parties—and party-goers frequently used Zitricki’s bathroom, Greenville Police Sergeant Sgt. Tim Conroy told Fox News.

“We think that since Jenny was so outgoing, her apartment was right there by the pool, it wasn’t uncommon to have pool parties and Jenny’s apartment,” Sgt. Conroy said.

“I believe that she was targeted that way since she was so outgoing. I don’t think it was a random act that he just went into that apartment. He knew who was in that apartment when he entered, so no, I believe she was targeted.”

There is no evidence Zitricki knew Brasher socially—he was just one of many people who hung out at the pool and took advantage of the hospitality she offered.

On April 4, 1990, Brasher broke into Zitricki’s apartment through the sliding glass door. He attacked and then beat and strangled the young woman, leaving her body in the bathtub.

DNA Technology Solves the Crime

Her body was not found until two days later, when a co-worker called police

DNA technology was fairly new and rare in 1990, but samples had been kept.

In 2005, the Greenville police gave the Zitricki crime scene DNA to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) laboratory. SLED shared the data with the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database.

In 2006, Greenville police announced at a press conference that the DNA from Jenny Zitricki’s murder matched that from a 1998 Missouri double murder.

The DNA also linked Brasher to other crimes.

In May, 2017, DNA from the 1997 rape of a 14-year-old girl from Tennessee was matched to the DNA from the Zitricki case.

This led investigators from multiple agencies to convene a conference call with Parabon NanoLabs, a “genealogy” DNA lab in Virginia.

Brasher’s body was exhumed
Brasher’s body was exhumed for DNA testing. (Greenville Police Department)

Parabon was able to identify several potential family members of the as-yet unidentified criminal by matching the DNA with samples from a public database. Once they had homed in on Bashers as a suspect, police had his body exhumed for a definitive DNA test.

A Litany of Violent Crimes

Two sketches of Brashers
Witnesses worked with law enforcement to produce these two sketches of Brashers. (L—FBI, R—Greenville Police Department)

Law enforcement officials were able to construct the trail of criminal deeds basher committed. According to the Greenville News, Brashers had stayed off police radar for almost two years after killing Jenny Zitricki.

Then, Feb. 18, 1992, Brashers was arrested in Cobb County, Georgia, with a stolen car and a stolen pistol. Police said Brashers had a police scanner, the jacket from a police uniform, burglary tools and a fake Tennessee license in his possession when he was arrested.

Brashers was convicted and served five years.

One month after being released, in March, 1997, Brashers broke into a home in Memphis, Tennessee, and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl. He left DNA, but was not identified as the attacker until May, 2017, Fox News reported.

One year later, on March 28, 1998, brasher broke into the home of Sherri Scherer, in Portageville, Missouri. He then sexually assaulted 12-year-old Megan Scherer, before shooting her many times and killing her.

Later that same day, Brashers tried to break into a home in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The 25-year-old woman in that house resisted, trying to protect her small child. The mother was shot in the struggle, but survived, and gave police a description of her attacker.

Ballistics evidence linked Brasher to the Scherer attack earlier in the day.

Serial killer and rapist Robert Brashers
Serial killer and rapist Robert Eugene Brashers. (Greenvile Police Department)

On April 12, 1998, Brashers was arrested while breaking into another woman’s home. He had cut the phone lines, and was carrying tools, a video camera, and a firearm. Because he had not yet been linked to any of his previous crimes, Bashers was eventually released.

The saga came to a just but bloody conclusion in January of 1999.

On Jan. 13, police in Kennett, Missouri, spotted a car with a stolen license plate in the parking lot of a “Super 8” motel. Police cross-referenced the plate with room numbers and found where Brashers was staying.

Brashers had a gun and held the other occupants of the room hostage for about four hours before finally releasing them.

Apparently realizing that he was not going to be able to escape and was not going to be released on bond again, Brasher shot himself. He died six days later.


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Chris Jasurek