Stephan Smerk

On September 11, 2023, police announced that they had arrested 51-year-old Stephan Smerk for the November 20, 1994 murder of 37-year-old Robin Warr Lawrence in Springfield, Virginia.

Lawrence was stabbed to death by an unknown intruder. Her husband, who was out of the country, could not reach her, so he had a friend check on her. Her remains were found shortly after noon. Her 2-year-old daughter was found in another room, unharmed.

A DNA profile of the suspect was developed from material collected at the crime scene, but there were no hits to law enforcement databases.

The FIGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs, in partnership with the Fairfax County Police Department. Parabon also performed forensic phenotyping in the case.

Smerk is reported to have been on active duty at the nearby Fort Myer U.S. Army base at the time of the murder. Smerk is now married with two children and working as a software engineer. He was arrested at his home in upstate New York. Smerk has confessed to the murder of Lawrence. Smerk has no criminal record. He will be extradited to Virginia to face charges of second-degree murder in Fairfax County Circuit Court.

Lawrence was a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts and worked as a merchandiser at an auto centre.


FCPD Public Affairs Bureau. “Detectives Solve Decades-Old Cold Case With DNA Breakthrough.” Fairfax County Police Department News, September 11, 2023. Accessed September 12, 2023.

Hughes, Steve. “Niskayuna Man Charged in 1994 Virginia Homicide.” Times Union, September 11, 2023. Accessed September 12, 2023.

Luperon, Alberto. “‘Active Duty’ Army Worker Randomly Stabbed Woman to Death Inside Her House While Her 2-Year-Old Daughter was Nearby: Cops.” Law & Crime, September 12, 2023. Accessed September 12, 2023.

Peterson, Beatrice. “Arrest Made in 1994 Cold Case Murder of Virginia Mother After DNA Testing, Confession: Police.” ABC News, September 11, 2023. Accessed September 12, 2023.


First Name Stephan
Last Name Smerk
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2023-09-11
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
2052 Robin Lawrence 37 1994-11-20 Springfield, VA Fairfax CPD Second degree murder Case is currently pending before the court Fairfax CO CIR CT

Last updated: February 13, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.