Robert Brashers serial killer in Greenville woman’s death.
A “violent, serial rapist and murderer” is the man responsible for the 1990 death of a Greenville woman found bludgeoned and strangled in her bathtub and other major cases in multiple states, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller announced during a news conference on Friday.
Miller named Robert Eugene Brashers as the person responsible for sexually assaulting and killing Genevieve “Jenny” Zitricki, a 28-year-old, who was found dead in April 1990 at her Hidden Lakes apartment on Villa Road. Police said Brashers broke in through a back door. A maintenance man found Zitricki’s body in her bathtub days after she was killed.
Brashers committed suicide in January 1999 after a four-hour standoff inside a Missouri hotel room, Miller said.
He said he released his wife and children from the room and then shot himself. Brashers, 40, died six days later.
Miller said Brashers has been named a suspect in several other cold cases in other states.
In 2017, Greenville police’s new cold case unit announced that DNA from Zitricki’s case was linked to the March 1998 deaths of Sherri Scherer, 37, and her daughter, Megan, 12, in Portageville, Missouri.
New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens was also notified at that time that DNA from the Scherer murder scene matched DNA recovered from an unsolved 1997 rape in Memphis, Tennessee, and a shooting in Dyersville, Tennessee, some weeks later.
Miller spoke about the process that dozens of investigators went through to solve the case and name Brashers as a suspect.
He said that in 2005, evidence from the Zitricki’s death was sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Divison’s DNA lab.
In 2006, the DNA from the case was matched to the profile of the March 1998 murders in Missouri. Investigators were not able to identify a suspect at the time, Miller said.
In 2009 Zitricki’s case was featured on America’s Most Wanted. Miller said investigators hoped the national exposure would help bring the murder to justice. He said new details that had not been released were featured on the show in hopes of finding a suspect.
In 2017, the DNA from Zitricki’s case was matched to the 1997 unsolved rape in Memphis, Tennessee. But again, no suspect was identified.
In July 2018, investigators working the cases in Greenville, Missouri and Tennessee began working with the Parabon genealogy lab in Virginia and submitted the DNA from each case to the lab for comparison. The lab developed the person they believed was likely a suspect. Miller said members of the possible suspect’s family were contacted and asked to submit DNA swabs. The results led investigators to Brashers.
In September 2018, Brashers’ body was exhumed and additional DNA was collected. Lab results confirmed Brashers’ DNA matched the DNA in the above cases.
Miller said Brashers lived a majority of his life in Huntsville, Alabama, but lived in Paragould, Arkansas, after being released from prison in 1997.
During the news conference, Miller also described Brashers’ extensive criminal past.
In 1986, Brashers was convicted of beating and shooting a woman Port St. Lucia, Florida. For that crime, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and served 2 and a half years. He was released in 1989.
In 1990, Brashers killed Jenny Zitricki in Greenville, Miller said.
He said Brashers was arrested in 1992 in Cobb County, Georgia, for possession of a stolen pistol and vehicle. He was sentenced to prison and released in February 1997.
In March 1997, Brashers sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female visiting friends at a home in Tennessee, Miller said.
Miller said in March 1998, Brashers “brutally murdered” Sherri Scherer, 37, and her daughter, Megan, 12, in Portageville, Missouri. Miller said Brashers shot them both multiple times and Megan was sexually assaulted.
Miller said that on the same day, Brashers forced his way into a 25-year-old woman’s home, who was home with her small child. He said the woman fought Brashers who then shot her. The woman survived. Miller said a bullet from the scene was linked back to the murders of Scherer and her daughter.
Miller said Brashers was arrested in April 1998 as he tried to break into a single woman’s home for whom he had previously done handyman work. Brashers was released from custody the day after he was arrested.
Miller said that in January 1999, officers found a vehicle with a stolen tag at a motel in Kennett, Missouri. Brashers, along with his wife and children, were found in a room. After a four-hour standoff Brashers released his wife and children and shot himself, Miller said. He died six days later, Miller said.
Zitricki’s brother, Phillip, spoke during the news conference.
He thanked the investigators for their time and work on the case and for never giving up hope.
“Twenty-eight years. 28 years. It’s been a long time. It’s been enough time for trails to go cold. For memories to fade. And for connections to fray and sever. It’s almost been time enough to give up hope, Phillip said.
He described Zitricki as a “force of nature’ and “firecracker.”
Phillip also said his heart goes out to the family and friends of the other victims.