20-year-old southeast MO cold case solved

20-year-old southeast MO cold case solved
Sherri and Megan Scherer were senselessly shot to death in their own home in March 1998. (Source: Scherer family)

NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A 20-year cold case mystery in southeast Missouri has been solved.

Authorities working the 1998 murders of Sherri and Megan Scherer in Portageville, Missouri have identified their killer as Robert Eugene Brashers.

Heartland News learned exclusively they have a DNA match that proves conclusively this man killed the mother and daughter, along with a 28-year-old woman in South Carolina back in 1990.

On Friday, Oct. 5 the Missouri State Highway Patrol and New Madrid County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference explaining how they identified the killer 20 years later.

It’s a story we’ve been following since March 28, 1998 when Sherri and Megan Scherer were found senselessly shot to death in their own home.

We can tell you this man is dead, and the methods used to track him down are new to law enforcement not just here, but across the country.

Here is a look back at the crimes Heartland investigators have connected to this serial killer over the last 20 years.

"No bringing anybody back. No turning the clock back."

Tony Scherer described the actions that would forever change his life and the life of his son, Steven. It happened March 28, 1998 at their Portageville, Missouri home. Father and son found 38-year-old Sherri and 12-year-old daughter Megan Scherer shot to death. Megan had been sexually assaulted.

"Certainly, you would think that there were similarities,” lead investigator Bud Cooper said about the Scherer murders and a shooting that happened just hours later in Dyer County, Tennessee.

A stranger, first asking for directions, pulled a gun on a woman and her children and tried to force his way into her home.

He fired a single shot that injured her before leaving the scene in a maroon-colored van. Tests showed the same gun was used in both crimes, and now police had a composite sketch of their suspect.

The first major break in the Scherer case came in 2006.

"It was hard to believe but we had the DNA that was an identical match,” said New Madrid County Captain Chris Hensley.

That DNA match put Sherri and Megan’s killer in South Carolina in 1990, where he raped and killed 28-year-old Genevieve Zitricki.

A second DNA match came in the spring of 2017. It linked the Scherer murders to the unsolved rape of a 14-year-old girl in Memphis from 1997.

"It bridged a gap for us,” Cooper explained at the time. “Now we had live victims talking and able to tell us what he said, what he was doing, what he was thinking.”

On January 13, 1999, police in Kennett, Mo. were investigating stolen license plates when they contacted someone in a room at the Super 8 Motel where Brashers was staying. A four-hour standoff began with Brashers armed with a semi-automatic pistol.

Officers learned during the standoff that Brashers had active warrants for his arrest stemming from a 1998 incident in Paragould, Arkansas.

The standoff ended when Brashers shot himself in the head. He died from his injuries on Jan. 19, 1999.

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