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Press Release

Virginia Man Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder While Armed In 1984 Slaying of Woman in Southeast Washington

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
DNA Later Linked Him to the Crime

            WASHINGTON – Joe Anthony Barber, 58, formerly of Woodbridge, Va., was found guilty today of first-degree murder while armed for the 1984 slaying of a woman at her apartment in Southeast Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

            Barber was found guilty by a jury following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Robert E. Morin scheduled sentencing for Sept. 30, 2016. Barber faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the crime.

            According to the government’s evidence, on Jan. 1, 1984, the body of the victim, Rachel Cox, 43, was found at 6:30 a.m., when her daughter came home to their apartment in the 3300 block of Sixth Street SE.  Ms. Cox was found on the floor, partially covered with a comforter, with her hands tied behind her back, her underwear at her feet, and 12 stab wounds to her torso, which injured her liver and heart.  The victim’s daughter had last seen her mother on New Year’s Eve just before midnight.

            Vaginal swabs taken from the body during the 1984 autopsy were submitted for DNA analysis in April 2013.  Semen was found on the swabs and a profile was developed.  Barber was identified as a suspect through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a web of state and national databases containing DNA profiles from convicted offenders and crime scenes that is used as an investigative tool. Barber’s profile was in the system as a result of a 1984 conviction in an unrelated rape case. Further investigation led to Barber’s arrest in November 2013, and he has been in custody since that time.

            In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Chief Lanier commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling and Paul Howell; Paralegal Specialists Alesha Matthews Yette, Debra Joyner, Stephanie Siegerist, and Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie, Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Victim/Witness Advocates Jennifer Clark and Karen Giannakoulias, and Victim/Witness Services Coordinators Tonya Jones and Katina Adams-Washington. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney and S. Vinét Bryant, who investigated, indicted and prosecuted the matter.

Updated June 24, 2016

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 16-119