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Man suspected in 1972 murder kills self before jury convicts

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 10, 2020

Associated Press

Associated Press

EVERETT – An Edmonds man on trial for the 1972 killing of a 20-year-old woman killed himself just before a jury convicted him of murder, police said.

On Monday, a jury found 78-year-old Terrence Miller guilty of first-degree murder, despite a defense motion to dismiss the case due to the defendant’s death, The Herald reported.

After a two-week trial, Miller was convicted of shooting Jody Loomis when she was on a bike ride to see her horse. A jury deliberated Friday afternoon and Monday morning before finding Miller guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Miller died at his home, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Miller had posted $1 million bond last year.

The official cause and manner of death will be determined by the county medical examiner’s office.

The judge ordered him to surrender weapons and he had been supervised by a private electronic home monitoring company.

“I’m glad that we got to hear the verdict,” said the lead sheriff’s detective in the case, Jim Scharf. “I think that was good for the (Loomis) family.”

At the center of the trial was DNA in the form of semen recovered from a boot worn by Loomis on Aug. 23, 1972. It went unnoticed by investigators at multiple agencies until a state crime lab technician discovered it in 2008 as part of a renewed effort by the sheriff’s cold case team to solve the crime.

A somewhat degraded genetic profile was analyzed and used to rule out potential suspects.

Then in 2018, the private forensic experts at Parabon Nanolabs extracted a genetic profile that could be uploaded to public ancestry websites, the first step in an investigative technique known as forensic genealogy. An Oregon genealogist, Deb Stone, built the suspect’s family tree based on the DNA, looking for a spot where the limbs intersected.

It’s the same forensic tool police in California used to track down a suspect in the Golden State Killer case.

The genealogist’s research led investigators to Terry Miller, a retired heavy equipment operator from Edmonds, Washington, who was running a ceramics shop with his wife.

An undercover police task force picked up coffee cups he threw away at Tulalip Resort Casino.

The state crime lab tested saliva on the cup, and the results came back as an apparent match for DNA on the boot.

Sheriff’s detectives arrested Miller in April 2019. His defense maintained his innocence in closing arguments Friday.

Miller and Loomis did not know each other.

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