Grand Jury Indicts 2 in Nineteen Nineties Cold Cases, 1 in 2023 Murder

A Fairfax grand jury indicted defendants in three homicide circumstances, two of them from the Nineteen Nineties and the third involving an au pair in Herndon.

Trial dates for all three will probably be set on April 18, based on Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.

“I’m extraordinarily pleased with the work that Fairfax County investigators have completed in these three circumstances,” Descano mentioned. “These indictments are proof of Fairfax County’s dedication to the pursuit of justice and our steadfast help to households of victims. No matter how lengthy it takes, people who commit such violent acts in our county will probably be discovered and face accountability for his or her actions.”

1991 Murder in West Falls Church

Jose Lazaro Cruz will probably be tried for the April 30, 1991, homicide of his spouse in West Falls Church. He went on the run after the stabbing loss of life of 24-year-old Ana Jurado, a mom of three younger youngsters, who was discovered mendacity on Cofer Road, police mentioned. Jurado’s daughters on the time have been 7 months outdated and three years outdated and residing within the U.S. Her son was 4 and in El Salvador.

Nearly 33 years later, Fairfax County police introduced his arrest. Lazaro Cruz had fled to El Salvador, finally remarried and had one other household, and was picked up when he tried to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua.

“This actually isn’t a conventional chilly case. It was solved just about instantly,” mentioned Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis in January, when he introduced the arrest.

1994 Murder in Springfield

In one other chilly case that took 29 years to resolve, the grand jury indicted Stephan Smerk. In 2023, he willingly confessed when chilly case detectives talked to him in Niskayuna, New York, police mentioned.

Smerk, a software program engineer, will go on trial for the November 20, 1994, homicide of Robin Lawrence, a 37-year-old mom discovered useless inside her Springfield house. At the time of the homicide, her 2-year-old daughter was in one other room.

Back in 1994, the case stumped detectives. Lawrence had been stabbed and slashed repeatedly, they usually had no suspects. They collected DNA on the scene and developed a DNA profile that had no match, on the time.

In 2019, the police enlisted the assistance of Northern Virginia–based mostly Parabon NanoLabs. The DNA know-how firm makes a speciality of DNA phenotyping and genetic family tree evaluation. Those processes can predict what anyone appears to be like like and discover people who find themselves associated.

Parabon created a composite sketch of a suspect utilizing that DNA and developed a household tree.

“For three years our detectives labored with that household tree to attempt to put issues collectively. Ultimately, that led them to Stephan Smerk,” mentioned Eli Cory, Fairfax County’s deputy chief of police for investigations, throughout a 2023 information convention.

Detectives went to the upstate New York city the place Smerk, a father of two, lived. They talked to him when he was taking out his trash. Chief Kevin Davis mentioned Smerk willingly submitted to a DNA swab, and after they left his house, Smerk referred to as the chilly case detectives and went to the police station, the place he advised detectives particulars concerning the killing he dedicated whereas stationed out of Fort Myer. Davis mentioned Smerk didn’t know the sufferer.

“This was actually a randomly chosen act,” Cory mentioned. “There was no connection between the 2 of them.”

2023 Murder in Herndon

In the third grand jury indictment, Juliana Peres Magalhaes will go on trial for the 2023 homicide of Joseph Ryan in Herndon.

The au pair from Brazil labored for Christine and Brendan Banfield. Police in February 2023 got here to their Herndon house for a report of a person shot and a lady stabbed. Ryan had been shot within the higher physique and Christine Banfield stabbed within the higher physique. Ryan died on the scene.

No one has been charged in reference to Banfield’s homicide.

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