On April 10, 2008, residents of Portsmouth, Virginia witnessed a horrific murder in which Megan Randowski was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. During the investigation, detectives found no signs of forced entry, although there were clear signs that Meghan fought for her life and her death. “Dateline: The Phone” chronicles the heinous murder and takes viewers through the investigation that then brings the perpetrators to justice. Let’s take a closer look at this case and learn more, shall we?
How did Meghan Randowski die?
Meghan was 16 when she was killed, and relatives mentioned she was an outstanding student. She even has a deep-rooted passion for dance and has ambitions to succeed in the field. Plus, Meghan’s friends show how the 16-year-old is able to make friends quickly and smile at everyone she meets. Meghan was adored at home and at school, and those close to her found it difficult to accept her untimely death.
On April 10, 2008, Meghan came home from school early to cook some lunch for herself. She even left a voicemail for her mother and mentioned that she had returned safely. However, things soon took a disturbing turn when Meghan’s stepfather, Chris Short, returned home in the afternoon to find his stepdaughter collapsed on the floor. Chris immediately called 911, and paramedics arrived to pronounce Meghan dead. The victim had her limbs tied together with tape, while an initial medical examination suggested signs of sexual abuse.
Later, an autopsy determined that Meghan had been stabbed more than 40 times and even confirmed that the killer had sexually assaulted her. Interestingly, there were no signs of forced entry, although detectives did notice that some bushes from the garden outside had entered the home. Additionally, after a close inspection of the crime scene, authorities realized how heroically Meghan was fighting for her life as her attacker dragged her through several rooms before killing her.
Who killed Megan Randowski?
To the police’s surprise, Meghan’s stepfather immediately expressed his concern that a former family friend was responsible for the crime. The man in question was one of Chris’ colleagues, Robert Hick, who had developed a close relationship with the victim’s family. However, the show mentioned that Meghan later accused Hick of sexually abusing her, which caused Chris to cut all contact with him. Interestingly, according to the episode, Hick’s investigation revealed that he was illegally harboring child pornography and was arrested for it. However, his DNA samples did not match those recovered from the crime scene, suggesting he was not involved in the murder.
DNA samples collected by police from the crime scene were determined to belong to an African-American man. However, the progress of the case came to a complete halt as most leads led to a dead end that brought the authorities back to where they started. However, about six months after the murder, police received a helpful tip asking them to investigate one of Meghan’s classmates, Robert Barnes.
Although Barnes mentioned he knew Meghan and hung out with her regularly, he claimed he had nothing to do with the murder. In addition, he was prepared to hand over his DNA sample and provided authorities with a piece of chewing gum. However, to everyone’s surprise, the DNA on the gum belonged to a woman, confirming the fact that Barnes was trying to hide something.
Not wanting to wait any longer, police called the 16-year-old suspect for questioning and interrogated him for the murder. Ultimately, Barnes succumbed to the interrogation and admitted to sexually assaulting and murdering Meghan. Although Barnes mentioned that a mysterious man forced him to do such a thing, the police did not believe his story and arrested him on the grounds of a crime. After appearing in court, Barnes pleaded guilty to murder and sexual assault and was sentenced to 42 years in prison in 2009. He is currently being held at the Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Virginia.
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