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DNA Evidence Links 1980s Murders of D.C. Lesbian, Another Woman

Crime scene building

A recently created DNA profile links the murders of Greta Rainey and Florence Eyssalenne, which happened two years apart in the same building, to the same suspect.

DNA evidence has provided a link between the rapes and murders of a lesbian and another woman in the same Washington, D.C., apartment building in the 1980s.

Greta Rainey, 35, was raped and strangled in 1987 in her girlfriend's apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Her girlfriend, Roxanne Johnson, 32 at the time, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Johnson maintained she was innocent, and the charges were dropped four months later without explanation, the Washington Blade reports.

Florence Eyssalenne, 23, had been raped and strangled in an apartment on the same floor in 1985. Police had obtained DNA samples in rape kits, but they were able only recently to create a full DNA profile that links the crimes to the same suspect, according to D.C. TV station WRC. For some reason the 1985 kit was never tested; it is unclear if the other one had been.

"Essentially, the identity of this person is still unknown to us; however, we can say the individual is a male. We believe him to be of African American descent," Metropolitan Police Department Captain Kevin Kentish told WRC. The department is taking many routes in hopes of finding the suspect, who was likely familiar with the building and the neighborhood, and that includes checking home genealogy kits, he said. Detectives have ruled out at least one person.

Johnson told the Blade years ago that the arrest upended her life. She was forced to move out of the building, she said, because the landlord thought her presence bothered other tenants. The Blade tried to contact Johnson after news of the DNA evidence came out but could not locate her.

Bernard Eyssalenne, Florence Eyssalenne's brother, expressed relief that there was a break in the case. "Never gave up. I've always stayed in touch with all the investigators," he told WRC.

Police are offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the women's deaths. Anyone with a lead is asked to contact the Metro Police at (202) 727-9099.

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