Stedman speaks to Warwick GOP committee

By on January 23, 2019

DA shares behind-the-scenes moments how a genealogy database and gum helped solve the 1992 murder of elementary school teacher Christy Mirack

By Patrick Burns

Craig Stedman’s speech about his three-term career as Lancaster County District Attorney kicked off the Warwick Area Republican Committee dinner at the General Sutter Inn Friday.

The dinner in turn kicked off the local 2019 political season and attracted many familiar elected officials and some, such as Warwick High School graduate and Lititz resident, Heather Adams, who’d like to be.

Republican Dinner at the General Sutter, Lititz, January 18, 2019

Adams is among a trio of lawyers vying for the county GOP endorsement to become the next Lancaster County District Attorney.

Also at the WARC dinner were Adams’ GOP competitors, current assistant district attorneys Mark Fetterman and Karen Mansfield.

Stedman, 54, of Manheim Township, has already earned the GOP party backing and could follow in the footsteps of the last three district attorneys &tstr; current Judge Donald Totaro, the late Henry S. Kenderdine and Joseph Madenspacher in taking a seat as a Lancaster County Judge. A vacancy on the 15-judge bench dates back to Jan. 31, 2018 when Lancaster County Judge Jay J. Hoberg retired.

Vying for the local judgeship in addition to Stedman are Chief Public Defender Todd Brown, former County Solicitor Crystal Clark, attorney Shawn McLaughlin and attorney JoAnne Murphy.
Notables at the dinner included state senators Ryan Aument and Scott Martin who last year recommended Stedman fill the vacancy created by Hoberg’s retirement.

Stedman, the county’s top prosecutor since 2008, delivered a speech themed “The Top 10 Things You Don’t Know about the DA’s Office.” Some of the more serious topics covered included the opioid-heroin crisis and what the DA’s office has done to combat it.

Warwick High School graduate and Lititz resident, Heather Adams, a candidate for Lancaster County District Attorney, speaks with Warwick Township Supervisor Andrew Spade a a GOP candidate for county Prothonotary. Republican Dinner at the General Sutter, Lititz, January 18, 2019

“The steps we’ve taken include not just with enforcement but with outreach prevention and education,” Stedman said Friday. One of the things people don’t know is the DA office’s push for programs intended to divert minor drug and alcohol offenses at the district court level.

“Diversion (programs) give people who deserve that second chance a second chance,” he said. During his tenure, the DA’s office diversion rate increased from about 5 percent to 22 percent.

“I don’t necessarily have a reputation for being soft on crime but it’s being smart on crime,” Stedman said. Stedman also discussed his involvement in Fight Crime: Invest in Kids initiative, which last year urged lawmakers to allocate $9 million more toward preventing child abuse and neglect.

“The program calls for putting money in high quality Pre-K, particularly for at-risk kids who need the funding,” he said. “The data is very clear, if you make the investment in early education, you’re not going to have to spend as much on incarceration later on.” Stedman, who said he’s motivated in his work to be a voice for victims, spoke about how technology has improved during his time as DA. He talked about how a genealogy database and gum help convict Raymond Charles Rowe of the 1992 raping and strangulation murder of 25-year-old elementary school teacher Christy Mirack at her apartment in Lancaster.

Senator Ryan Aument speaks with Patrick Burns.

Stedman shared some of the tense, behind-the-scenes moments where undercover detectives collected Rowe’s DNA from a water bottle and chewing gum that matched DNA recovered from the carpet in Mirack’s home.

When the results came in positive, Rowe was on a weeks-long, cross-country trip.

“We were sweating it out the whole time,” he said. “We worried ‘is somebody going to leak it?’ We tried to keep it close but several people knew and in this day and age someone could accidentally tell a spouse or girlfriend and then that could get into social media.”

Meanwhile, the DA’s office worried for weeks about Rowe making a run for it or him endangering others. In the end, Stedman stressed the importance of dispelling the myth that the DA’s office “just wants to lock people up.”

“We’re actually ministers of justice &tstr; that does not mean lock everybody up,” he said. “It means do the right thing for the right reason in each case.”

Patrick Burns is news editor of the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 717-721-4455 

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