Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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September 21, 2012

Coroner rules homicide in Dunlap man’s death

DUNLAP — Sheila Miller is grieving the death of her son, Mark. She’s also faced with a mystery.

“I don’t understand why somebody wanted to do something so horrible like this to him,” Miller said Friday.

The day before, a body was found along the south bank of the St. Joseph River, just east of Six Span Bridge near the intersection of C.R. 17 and Ind. 120. Elkhart County police Capt. Jim Bradberry said the body had been stuffed inside a 55-gallon steel drum. Detectives confirmed Friday afternoon the body is likely that of 44-year-old Mark Allen Miller, a tattoo shop owner from the Dunlap area.

Following a 12:30 p.m. autopsy on the body Bradberry said Miller’s identity was presumptively acquired by looking at tattoos on his body. Further tests to confirm his identity will be made through the use of fingerprints and/or dental records. Miller, had been missing since Sept. 7.

His friends and family gathered at the scene near Six Span Thursday on the chance that the body was Miller’s.

“The police told us it was him,” Sheila Miller said.

Mark Miller had five children, including twin 18-year-old daughters and a 6-year-old son who is devastated, Sheila Miller said.

“He loved his daddy so much,” she said. Mark was also father to a 4-year-old son and a girl who just turned 2.

Mark Miller ran the Tattoo Shop along U.S. 33 in Dunlap. According to Elkhart County jail records, he also had a string of arrests from 1991 to 2011 for drug, battery and alcohol offenses, among others.

Sheila Miller acknowledged her son’s past.

“He used to sell drugs. I won’t lie to you,” she said. “But that was a long time ago.”

Mark Miller had turned his life around, his mother said, and was working to help people who needed it. He’d been involved in fundraisers and gave money to charitable organizations.

“He had friends all over the United States and even in different countries that loved him so much,” Sheila said.

She recalled how Mark told her this summer that all he wanted was to have his family — to be able to go to work, come home and be with them.

“And now somebody wants to do something so horrible like this to him,” Sheila said.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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