DNA Links Inmate to Slayings

DNA Links Inmate to Slayings

Death-row prisoner returned to stand trial for three murders in '88.

For 17 years, the nightmare that was Warren Fulton and Rachel Raver’s last hours of life had gone unsolved.

Last seen leaving a Washington, D.C. sports lounge around midnight on Dec. 2, 1988, the two George Washington University students, both 22, were found dead Dec. 6, 1988 in a field off Hunter Mill Road in Reston. Both were shot in the head. Raver had been raped. Investigators believed they had been abducted and forced to drive to the remote location, according to police.

With the help of DNA evidence, Alfredo R. Prieto, 40, a California death-row inmate, was linked to the murders and indicted last November on the capital murder and rape charges that had baffled investigators for years.

Last week, Fairfax County and Arlington county officers traveled to California to return Prieto to Fairfax to face two counts of capital murder, one count of rape, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and one count of grand larceny. Prieto, who is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, arrived Friday night, April 28.

THE BREAK IN the case came last summer when DNA evidence linked Prieto to Raver’s death and that of Veronica Jefferson, a 24-year-old CIA finance officer who was raped and shot to death in Arlington County in May 1988, according to a police report.

For years, investigators believed the killings were unrelated, said Mary Mulrenan, a spokesperson for Fairfax County police. But in 2000 DNA evidence confirmed that the women had been killed by the same man, according to the police report.

Yet Prieto did not become a suspect until last year when DNA samples from California inmates were added to a national database, said Mulrenan. “His DNA was added and it matched,” said Mulrenan, adding that a DNA verification test was also performed.

Prieto has been on California's death row in the San Quentin State Prison since 1992, when he was sentenced for the September 1990 murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl, according to authorities.

“He’s still on death row [in California], but he’s been released to go through the court system here,” said Mulrenan. “He could then go to Arlington to face the crimes there.”

In Arlington, Prieto faces charges stemming from Jefferson’s rape and murder, including one count of capital murder, one count of rape, one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, one count of robbery and one count of abduction.