This week The Genetic Detective is on the hunt for a serial killer and rapist who spread misery across Missouri, Tennessee, and South Carolina throughout the 1990s. It was 2018 before Robert Bashers was finally identified as the killer.
On March 28, 1998, in New Madrid, Missouri, Tony Scherer and his son Steven discovered the dead bodies of 38-year-old wife Sherri and daughter Megan Scherer. They had been shot dead in their own home, and Meagan, just 12 years old, had been sexually assaulted.
Just a few hours later and over the border in Dyer County, Tennessee, a man attacked another mother and daughter in their home. He attempted to gain entry into their home and fired a shot at them before fleeing the scene.
The police were later able to determine that the same gun had been used at both crime scenes. However, despite there being a description of the perpetrator and the vehicle he was driving, the case still grew cold.
The first significant break in the case came in 2006 when investigators came up with a DNA match to another crime from 1990. The police learned that the same person who killed Sherri and Megan had eight years previously also raped and murdered 28-year-old Genevieve Zitricki in Greenville, South Carolina.
More crimes were linked to Sherri and Megan Scherer murders
Another eleven years passed before a DNA match also linked the killer to an unsolved rape of a 14-year-old girl in Memphis from 1997.
Investigators enlisted the help of genetic detective CeCe Moore who entered the DNA into a commercial genealogy website that documents family trees. This pioneering method of detective work was first used to capture the Golden State Killer in 2017, and has since, been successful in numerous cold cases.
Moore was able to identify the family tree of the man who’d shot Sherri and Megan, which allowed the cops to narrow it down to a single individual, career criminal Robert Bashers.
There was one problem, Bashers had shot himself in January 1999, following a four-hour stand-off with cops at a motel in Kennett, Missouri.
The police had been hunting Bashers over stolen license plates and discovered there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He chose to kill himself rather than face justice.
In 2018, Bashers’s corpse was exhumed in order to confirm that he was the killer. He had never been a suspect in the Scherer murders until the DNA evidence put him in the frame.
More from The Genetic Detective
Follow the links to read about more crimes solved by the genetic detective.
Darold Bowden spread fear for two years between 2006 and 2008 when he began abducting and raping multiple women in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Ramsey Street Rapist, as he became known, remained at large for ten years until the police finally came knocking at his door in 2018.
Brian Dripps savagely raped and murdered 18-year-old Angie Dodds in her first apartment in Idaho Falls, ID. He escaped justice for over 20 years before the genetic detectives finally caught up to him.
The Genetic Detective airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.