Police investigating an unsolved rape and murder involving two GW students that occurred more than a decade ago may be one step closer to apprehending a suspect after DNA evidence linked the suspect to another murder.
On December 4, 1988, Rachel A. Raver and her boyfriend Warren H. Fulton III left Mister Day’s, a bar located at 1111 19th Street, at about 12:30 a.m. They were never seen alive again.
Two days later the bodies of Fulton and Raver were found in a field in Reston, Va., off Hunter Mill Road.
Raver, who graduated in the spring of 1988, was a soccer player who lettered each season of her four-year career. Fulton, a senior majoring in English and star baseball player, was expected to graduate that spring.
At the time police believed both victims were shot dead in a robbery. Fulton’s wallet and items in Raver’s purse were missing, and Raver had been raped.
Police believe the victims were taken to the Reston location between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. Residents in the vicinity heard gunshots around that time, said Lieutenant Amy Lubas, who works in the public information office for Fairfax County Police.
The case has remained open in Fairfax County Police’s cold case log since 1988.
Cold implies there is not a hot lead, Lubas said.
That year Fairfax County Police teamed up with GW Athletics and Recreation, the Office of Student Life as well as D.C. Metropolitan Police to investigate the murders.
Fairfax County police learned that Raver’s 4-door brown Toyota was driven to Queens, N.Y. Lubas said a New York City police officer, not knowing the car’s origin, issued a parking ticket Dec. 5. After the ticket had not been paid for over a month, the department sent a letter to Raver’ family requesting payment.
Fairfax County police went to New York to find the car and gather evidence after Raver’s family informed them about the ticket. When they arrived in Queens, all that remained was a car that had been stripped down to its frame.
It was very much picked over and it was a disappointment, Lubas said.
Last week police officials linked the suspect in the double-homicide to the murder case of 24-year-old Veronica Lynn Jefferson, using a state DNA computer program.
Arlington Police found Jefferson’s body behind McKinley Elementary School in Arlington, Va. in May 1988.
Several witnesses saw Jefferson, a finance officer for the CIA, talking to an individual outside a Giant Food store near Bailey’s Crossroads May 10, 1988 at 9:30 p.m., according to an Arlington Police press release. She was standing next to her red 1986 Chevy Camaro.
Minutes later, another witness saw her car driven by a man, as Jefferson rode in the passenger seat.
Witnesses who saw Jefferson with the suspect describe him as a young black male, according to the press release. He was about 6’3tall and weighed about 170 pounds.
At 2:30 a.m. the next morning, Jefferson’s nude body was found behind the elementary school. She had been raped and shot.
Her car was later found in the grocery store’s parking lot.
Fairfax police believed that the murder of Raver and Fulton stemmed from a carjacking, but now they have reason to believe that the double-homicide and the murder of Jefferson were sexually motivated crimes.
When you look at the objective evidence, at the time we had two students from GW and their vehicle had been stolen, Lubas said. We knew that (Raver) had been sexually assaulted but the fact that the vehicle was stolen was more indicative of a carjacking.
Lubas called the discovery a cold hit and said it was the first of its kind for the department using the new system.
It breathes new life into our investigation, said Corporal Justin McNaull, a spokesman for Arlington Police. We’ve been able to make some leaps and bounds, but we haven’t been able to learn a lot more.
When DNA evidence was first collected in 1988, the standards for testing were different, Lubas said. DNA evidence was still in its infancy and the methods for submission were different.
Lubas said although the collection of DNA evidence is roughly the same, the FBI has begun putting together a new standard for submission of DNA evidence so that it is more complete and more consistent from agency to agency.
While the computer links the DNA from the two cases, neither department has learned the identity of the suspect. Police in Arlington and Fairfax counties have offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.
Lubas said Fairfax Police was able to re-submit evidence from the same material collected at the crime scene because DNA evidence does not degrade over time as long as it remains preserved properly. She declined comment on the material used.
This jumpstarts our investigation so we can put our information together and find the killer, McNaull said. It also lets us know our incident was not just an isolated tragedy; that there is a real likelihood that the same predator who killed Veronica killed (the other two victims).