Joe Barber Indicted on First-Degree Murder Charge in the Stabbing Death of Rachel Cox

Joe Anthony Barber, 55, pleaded innocent Monday to the charge of first-degree murder while armed, after being indicted in connection with the fatal stabbing of Rachel Cox 30 years ago.

On Jan. 1, 1984, 43-year-old Cox was stabbed in her apartment on the 3300 block of 6th Street Southeast, according to charging documents.

Twenty-nine years later, the DNA found on Cox’s body was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, documents say. A comparison with DNA profiles in the National DNA Database revealed a positive match to Joe Barber, a registered sex offender, which led to his arrest in November 2013.

Barber’s DNA was in the system because he abducted and raped a 10-year-old girl who attended the elementary school across the street from Cox’s apartment later that same year, according to WJLA.

Charging documents say police found Cox, she was lying unconscious with her clothing removed below the waist and her hands tied behind her back. She was pronounced dead at the scene, documents say.

During Cox’s autopsy, the medical examiner found no signs of sexual assault. Vaginal swabs appeared dry under microscopic examination, but chemical testing found an enzyme pointing to the presence of semen, according to court documents.

Because of the nature in which the victim was discovered and the presumption of semen, the swabs were saved as evidence, documents say.

At the time of her death, some of Cox’s personal belongings were missing and presumed stolen: a pocket book and a wallet, which both contained personal papers as well as credit and bank cards, and a picture of the decedent.

When police interviewed Barber in August 2013, he was shown a photograph of Cox. According to police, Barber denied knowing, meeting, dating or have sexual intercourse with her.

Barber is scheduled for a felony status hearing on Oct. 17 before Judge Robert E. Morin.

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