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Three local girls did not die in vain
Searching for the good to come from Lisk-Silva? There is plenty.

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 8/18/2002

By RICHARD AMRHINE

THROUGH ALL THE phases of grief that accompany the loss of a child to violent death, a parent--an entire community for that matter--is left with the hope that some good can be derived from it.

Such is the case with the resolution of the slayings of Sofia Silva and Kristin and Kati Lisk. In this case, the good to come from the evil that caused their deaths is greater than we will ever know--in crimes that won't happen and in suffering and grief avoided.

The six-year investigation of their deaths at the hands of a serial killer has advanced the cause of cooperation among law enforcement agencies, has taken criminal investigation techniques to a higher level, and has showed the nation what community awareness is all about.

Those are impressive accomplishments, ones that three young women sacrificed their lives to achieve.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Ron Knight made it clear during his thorough and emotional statement at Tuesday's press conference that the outcome of the investigation was at once a combination of the relentless efforts of the law enforcement agencies involved, and courage of a young woman in South Carolina. Together, they completed the work that Sofia, Kristin, and Kati began.

Any single chapter of this case by itself would be meaningless. But together, they bring resolution. Some might suggest that thanks to luck alone--that after Richard Evonitz fell asleep, giving his last captive the opportunity to escape--the case unraveled.

But that seriously understates the efforts of investigators and forensics researchers who matched anecdotal and circumstantial evidence with DNA, fibers, and fingerprints to create the cold, hard facts that would have satisfied a jury that Richard Marc Evonitz was guilty of the Spotsylvania slayings.

There were mistakes, missteps, and dashed hopes along the way. The wrong man was arrested. The wrong vehicle was targeted. Fiber evidence was misidentified. Some believed that the ease of the abductions meant the victims must have known their assailant. There were similar crimes that took investigators to other states. There were scares involving motorists in the area who offered rides to children. There were missing girls who turned out to be runaways. All of these episodes were part of an investigation that forged ahead through the setbacks.


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