On Friday, Oct. 5, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and New Madrid County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint news conference to discuss how new technology had assisted in the resolution of the murders of Sherri and Megan Scherer in 1998.
The following is a synopsis and timeline of the information about the case that was discussed in Friday’s news conference:
March 28, 1998, rural Portageville, Mo. –
At approximately 7 p.m., the bodies of Sherri Scherer, 38, and Megan Scherer, 12, were discovered in their rural home. Both had been murdered and Megan had been sexually assaulted.
March 28, 1998, near Dyersburg, TN –
Approximately two and one-half hours later, an attempted home invasion and shooting was reported. A man in a van stopped, asked for directions, and attempted to force himself into the residence of a 25-year-old female and her children. The man produced a handgun and fired a shot during a struggle with the female. A bullet struck her in the arm after she had retreated to her residence. Ballistics connected the Dyer County incident to the Scherer murders. The female provided a description of the suspect and assisted with a composite drawing.
A partial DNA profile was developed from evidence at the Scherer scene. However, the profile lacked enough markers for entry into the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).
Investigators conduct numerous interviews and follow hundreds of leads. The cases also were featured on America’s Most Wanted.
Significant advances in DNA testing led to evidence from the Scherer murders being resubmitted to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Crime Laboratory. A full suspect DNA profile was developed and entered into CODIS resulting in a match to the April 6, 1990 murder of Genevieve Zitricki. Ms. Zitricki, 28, was found deceased inside her Greenville, SC, apartment after she failed to report for work.
Following the DNA match, investigators from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri worked together to investigate over 1,200 leads. The cases were again featured on America’s Most Wanted.
May 2017 ––
The investigation yielded a CODIS match to a March 11, 1997 rape of a 14-year-old female in Memphis, TN. The victim and four other individuals were at a residence in Memphis, when a man knocked on the door. As the resident attempted to close the door, the man pulled a revolver and pushed his way into the residence. The victim and witnesses provided a description and assisted with a composite drawing of the suspect.
Investigators sought the services of Parabon NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company. Parabon’s Snapshot® DNA Analysis technology combines DNA testing and genetic genealogy analysis to establish the relationship between an individual and their ancestors. Parabon’s process provided leads to law enforcement investigators that, when combined with traditional investigative techniques, led to the identification of Robert Eugene Brashers, a white male, date of birth March 13, 1958, as a suspect for the aforementioned cases. Brashers has been deceased since 1999. Investigators obtained DNA samples from Mr. Brashers’ surviving family members. Traditional forensic STR test results indicated Mr. Brashers was, with very little doubt, responsible for the crimes.
September 27, 2018 ––
Brashers’ remains were exhumed pursuant to a court order. Additional DNA samples were collected and laboratory testing confirmed Brashers’ DNA matches the suspect DNA in the aforementioned crimes.
Brashers’ extensive criminal history included attempted murder, burglary, impersonating a police officer, and unlawful possession of a weapon.
• Brashers was convicted in November 1986 of attempted second degree murder stemming from an incident in Saint Lucie County, Florida, which occurred November 11, 1985.
• April 12, 1998 – Brashers was arrested in Paragould, Arkansas. Brashers was attempting to break into a residence of a single female.
• January 13, 1999 – Kennett, Missouri, Police Department officers contacted an associate of Brashers in a room at the Super 8 Motel in Kennett, during a stolen license plate investigation. A four-hour standoff ensued, with Brashers armed with a semi-automatic pistol. Officers learned during the standoff that Brashers had active warrants for his arrest stemming from the 1998 incident in Paragould, AR. The standoff ended when Brashers shot himself in the head. He died from his injuries on January 19, 1999.
These cases were solved through the cooperation of many federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Lieutenant Colonel Eric T. Olson, acting superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of those agencies and their officers.