(GREENVILLE)- At a press conference today at City Hall, Greenville Police Department Chief Ken Miller announced the identity of the killer responsible for the brutal April 1990 murder of 28-year-old Genevieve (Jenny) Zitricki. Her death is believed to be the first in a series of violent murders of other women and even children across three states and over 10 years at the hands of the now-deceased Robert Eugene Brashers (DOB 3/13/58). He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on January 19, 1999.
This announcement comes as a result of law enforcement employing the services of Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based DNA technology company, which specializes in advancing investigations. In this case, the breakthrough was the utilization of a new service known as “genetic genealogy”, which utilizes advanced DNA testing in combination with innovative genetic analysis to establish the relationship between an individual and his/her ancestors. For forensic investigations, this method is used to generate highly informative leads as to the possible identity of an unknown victim or offender.
Investigators obtained DNA samples from Brashers’ surviving family members. On Thursday, September 27, 2018, Brashers’ remains were exhumed in Paraguold, AR, pursuant to a court order. Additional DNA samples were collected and laboratory testing confirmed that Brashers’ DNA conclusively matches the suspect DNA in multiple crimes across several states in the 1990s, including Jenny Zitricki. Additionally, Brashers’ address history indicates he lived near or within a short driving distance to each crime when they were perpetrated.
“Today is a bittersweet moment in that we have finally been able to bring closure to the family of Jenny Zitricki,” Chief 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.”
Jenny Zitricki was found deceased inside her Hidden Lake Apartment (now Lakeside Place Apartments) on Friday, April 6, 1990 by maintenance workers after she failed to report for work on two consecutive days. Her body was found lying in the bathtub with the water running. The coroner’s office determined she died two days earlier on April 4 as a result of blunt force injuries to her head and face and strangulation. Detectives later learned she had been sexually assaulted.
Her first floor apartment patio faced the community pool. The investigation revealed that the killer forced his way into Jenny’s apartment via the patio sliding glass door, attacked her while she slept, then left a threatening message on her mirror presumably to provide cover for the suspect.
By all accounts, Jenny Zitricki was outgoing, popular, and well-liked in her circle of colleagues and friends. She worked at Michelin as a computer analyst. At the time of her death, she was newly divorced and living alone.
Records show that in 1990 Brashers lived in an apartment at 25 Pelham Road, now known as The Park at Benito, less than a mile away from Jenny’s apartment. No evidence has surfaced that Jenny had any connection with her assailant. Advances in DNA testing conclusively showed that whoever killed Jenny was also linked to multiple other cases including the sexual assault on March 11, 1997 of a 14-year-old female in Memphis, Tennessee and the death of a mother and her 12-year-old daughter in Missouri a year later.
Over the years, the Zitricki case generated a lot of local and national media attention, including a segment on America’s Most Wanted in September 2009.
Jenny’s mother and brother are still alive and have indicated their appreciation in knowing that they can finally have some measure of closure after nearly three decades of anguish.
Summary Timeline of Robert Brashers’ Criminal Activity
• November 11, 1985: Brashers was arrested for beating and shooting a woman in Port Saint Lucie, FL. For this, he served 3 ½ years in prison and was released on May 4, 1989.
• April 4, 1990: Brashers brutally raped and murdered Jenny Zitricki in Greenville, SC.
• February 18, 1992: Brashers was arrested in Cobb County, GA for Possession of Stolen Pistol and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. At the time of his arrest he had a scanner, “police” coat, burglary tools, and a fake TN license. He, again, was sentenced to prison and was released on February 17, 1997.
• March 11, 1997: Brashers entered a home in Memphis, TN, and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female.
• March 28, 1998: Brashers brutally murdered Sherri Scherer and her 12-year-old daughter Megan by shooting each multiple times in Portageville, MO. Megan was also sexually assaulted before she was murdered. Later that same day, Brashers attempted to force his way into a home in Dyersburg, TN. The mother, 25, was home with small child. She fought with him, was shot, but survived and provided a description to police. The projectile retrieved from her body was also later linked to the Scherer murders.
• April 12, 1998: Brashers was arrested breaking into a single woman’s home, for whom he had previously done handyman work. Brasher cut the phone lines to the home, was armed with a firearm, had a video camera, and other tools. He was released from custody some time afterward, although that date is currently unclear to us.
• January 13, 1999: Officers located a vehicle in a parking lot of “Super 8” motel in Kennett, Missouri. Officers eventually made contact with multiple occupants of a room and located Brashers hiding under a bed armed with a gun. After four hours of police hostage negotiations, he released the other room occupants.
• January 19, 1999: Brashers died.