By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
One thousand, one hundred, and one.
The numbers don’t do justice to a Goshen tragedy, but they tell part of the story.
More than 1,000 police man-hours have been devoted to an investigation. Nearly 100 leads have been pursued after the crime that prompted it. And one man, James S. Miller, is dead.
Miller was murdered during a home invasion in the early morning of Oct. 9, 2011, at 1736 Wildwood Court. Miller lived — and died — just a couple blocks away from Goshen College, where he was a biology professor.
A year after the murder, Miller’s killer has not been arrested for the crime. This is despite what Goshen police Chief Wade Branson outlined as, simply put, an exhaustive investigation.
In a statement released to The Goshen News last week, Branson described his department’s efforts in the wake of the Miller slaying.
“The Millers’ home was secured by the police department for three days while evidence technicians from the Goshen Police Department, aided by technicians from other agencies, pored over the crime scene, collecting and preserving and extraordinary amount of physical evidence,” Branson stated.
The evidence collected over the three-day period following the attack is still being processed by staff with the Indiana State Police laboratory, according to Branson, and the search for DNA must be done meticulously.
“Given the tremendous amount of evidence to inspect and test, it seems painfully slow to those of us waiting on the results,” he said. “However, we are confident that the technicians at the Indiana State Police lab are competent professionals in their field and have as great an interest as we do in bringing this case to closure.”
Branson stated that the community outpouring to Miller’s murder generated close to 100 leads, each one prioritized and investigated by detectives.
“Those leads and tips are still coming in to the police department through Crime Stoppers, and the investigations into them are continuing,” he said. “The community input is a resource greatly valued by the police department, as is the assistance of Crime Stoppers as they continue to direct the relating information to us.”
Last fall, the Goshen Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 81 set up a reward fund with an eye toward solving the crime.
“The purpose was to hopefully have information come forward that would lead to the arrest of the suspect in the case,” said Sandy Snyder, FOP secretary/treasurer.
The Goshen FOP contributed $5,000 to the fund, which has grown to $6,581. “We got four donations from citizens that made up the extra,” Snyder said.
During the October 2011 press conference announcing the fund, then-president of Lodge 81 Chris Juroff said the murder had been taken personally by city police.
“This isn’t something that happens in our community, and we want people to know we aren’t going to stand for it,” Juroff said.
Last week, Snyder echoed those sentiments.
“We want this crime solved as much as anybody because it is such an unusual incident to happen in Goshen,” she said. “And the case is worked on every day.”
Branson said Goshen police have requested assistance from outside agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a “second pair of eyes” to ensure nothing in the case goes unnoticed. A Goshen police detective is assigned to the case full-time.
“The department has allocated resources specifically to this investigation and will maintain that allocation until the case is closed or until there are absolutely no new leads to follow,” Branson stated. “Thus far, well over one thousand man-hours have been spent on this investigation by officers and personnel with the Goshen Police Department.”
Confidence in police
Millers widow, Linda, said last week that she has been working closing with GPD detectives and has noticed more tips and activity on the case in recent months. She also said she is patient and confident in the work Goshen police are doing to solve the murder of her husband.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take to solve the case, but it might be a while yet,” Linda Miller said. “I’m sure there are people in Goshen who think the police are a bunch of idiots who don’t get it right and I would say that’s not the case. I think they’re a bunch of honest, hard-working people who are working hard to solve this awful crime.”
Miller said she will feel much better once the attacker is arrested, but does not want the police to rush something that might result in an error that could later be used against the prosecution.
She also said that she has been warmed by the support the department has shown her and her family over the past year.
“They’re not just interested in solving the crime, but also how we’re doing,” Miller said. “There was a point last fall when I asked for extra patrols and they were very willing to do that.
“I think they’re going to find him yet,” she added. “...They’ve been working hard to make sure everything is right.”
Goshen News Managing Editor Michael Wanbaugh contributed to this report.