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Judge dismisses charge after crime lab mistakenly links man to slain girl

June 17, 1997

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (AP) _ A judge dismissed a charge brought against a house painter accused in the slaying of a 16-year-old girl after the state crime lab acknowledged it mistakenly linked evidence to him.

The state had built its case on the lab’s conclusion that fibers found on Sofia Silva’s body matched those found in Karl Michael Roush’s van. Last week, the state crime lab admitted that the fibers did not match.

Prosecutor William Neely said Roush, a 44-year-old former neighbor of Sofia, remains a suspect based on circumstantial evidence.

But Judge William H. Ledbetter Jr., who ordered the abduction charge dropped, said it would be almost impossible for prosecutors to bring any more charges against Roush.

The error opens the possibility that the same person who killed Sofia in September also killed Kristin Lisk, 15, and her sister Kati Lisk, 12, last month. The abductions and conditions of the bodies were similar, according to reports that police have refused to confirm.

Sheriff Ronald Knight said he will wait to draw conclusions about a possible serial killer until the FBI finishes examining evidence in both cases.

Roush was in jail on a shoplifting charge when the Lisk girls were abducted.

Roush wanted his day in court to clear his name, his lawyers said, arguing unsuccessfully for a September trial.

``He wants to get the case resolved rather than have it linger,″ attorney Benjamin Woodbridge said.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder and abduction, but the murder charge was dropped because of questions about where Sofia was killed. Neely last week dropped plans to bring a new murder charge against Roush in Sofia’s death.

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