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‘Active Duty’ Army Worker Confessed to 1994 ‘Heinous’ Murder of Virginia Mother While Her 2-Year-Old Daughter Was Nearby: Police

NY Man Arrested in Connection With 1994 Cold Case Murder: Police

Stephen Smerk confessed to the 1994 murder of Robin Lawrence.

Sep. 14 2023, Published 2:05 p.m. ET

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A man in New York confessed to brutally stabbing a Virginia woman to death in 1994 and then leaving her toddler to fend for herself for days, according to authorities.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, 51-year-old Stephen Smerk of Niskayuna, New York, was arrested after DNA evidence matched him to the murder of 37-year-old Robin Lawrence, who was stabbed multiple times at her Springfield, Virginia, home on Nov. 20, 1994, while her 2-year-old daughter was also home.

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Lawrence’s husband was away on a business trip and had not heard from his wife, so he asked a friend to go do a wellness check. The friend found the mother’s bloodied body and the toddler dehydrated and crawling in soiled diapers, officials said.

“As far as a motive, the typical motives that we normally associate with murders, disputes, domestic violence, none of that was at play here,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said. “He chose her seemingly randomly and it was a heinous, heinous scene.”

For nearly 30 years, the case went unsolved until a DNA test with the Parabon company led them to the suspect’s family tree in 2019, authorities said.

Smerk was an active-duty military personnel working in Fort Meyers at the time the murder took place.

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NY Man Arrested in Connection With 1994 Cold Case Murder: Police

Age progression photos of Stephan Smerk


Police went to Smerk’s home in New York to collect a DNA sample, which he agreed to. However, before detectives could even leave the state, Smerk called them and confessed to Lawrence’s murder.

Smerk was charged with second-degree murder and is awaiting extradition to Virginia, officials said.

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In a statement, Lawrence’s husband, Ollie, said, “I was flabbergasted. You could have probably knocked me over with a feather. After all of this time, you have hope, but you also wonder: ‘Will they really find someone after 29 years?,’” the New York Post reported.


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