Real time investigation: Who killed James Miller, Part 1
For 6 1/2 years, investigators have been searching for the man who killed 58-year-old James Miller. Miller, a biology professor at Goshen College, was killed in a home invasion at his home on Wildwood Court near the campus. Police say he was beaten and stabbed to death. His wife, Linda Miller, was severely injured and spent several days in the hospital. The crime happened on October 9th, 2011, at around 1:00am.
For the past month, ABC57 has been taking a look back at the case. We've interviewed key players, religious leaders, investigators and even a former person of interest.
“It appears to be no obvious motive for someone to kill this man," Retired detective and former head of Michiana Crime Stoppers, Cindy Kilgore, said. “This was a very quiet, close neighborhood. And again, the victim, both of the victims, dabbled in nothing that would typically leave them exposed to be victims.”
That night, an injured Linda Miller managed to call 911. Police at the time told reporters that there was a struggle inside of the home that led to the end of the driveway. James Miller's body was found near his mailbox. At the time of the crime, neighbors told ABC57 that the Miller's children were away on a band trip.
“You can imagine, no community thinks it’s going to happen to them, especially a community the size of Goshen,” Former mayor Allan Kauffman said.
As the case continues to grow old, a new batch of investigators is getting fresh eyes on the evidence. The leader of that group of investigators is Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Becker.
"Are there still tips coming in?" Becker was asked.
"Sure. Yep." She said. "There have been hundreds of tips."
Under Becker, Investigator Mark Daggy leads of group of detectives investigating homicides new and old. He's the head of the Elkhart County Homicide Unit developed just last year.
“It’s definitely a case that has not been forgotten.” Daggy said.
His team assumed the case in August of 2017, when the unit was created. The unit inherited evidence and documents that have gone through multiple agencies already. Goshen Police were leading the investigation, but enlisted the help of the Indiana State Police and the feds.
In the years since, the Goshen detective leading the case has retired. The ISP detective assisting in the investigation also retired.
Anyone with knowledge of the case at Goshen PD, or in city government, is forbidden to speak about it, citing a memorandum of understanding with the Prosecuting Attorney's office.
Prosecutor Vicki Becker maintains a level of secrecy.
“Evidence is the only thing that can make or break a case.... There’s a huge amount of evidence in this case that is intimate, and it has stay intimate, because when that break comes, we have to know that it is reliable and credible. If we can’t say that, then the evidence has very little value.” She explained.
While Goshen PD was in charge, some evidence was quickly released. Just two days after the crime, the police department released a sketch of the suspect drawn with the help of Linda Miller.
That sketch has become synonymous with the case. It resembled a serial burglar who was arrested shortly after the murder. At the time, many people were convinced he was the killer. But how helpful was the sketch? And has it caused problems in the investigation?
We asked Vicki Becker those questions. Her answers, a look into the science of sketch artistry and the investigation into a former person of interest will be explored in stories still to come.