THE GOSHEN NEWS
The business partner of Mark A. Miller, 44, Elkhart, a tattoo shop owner who was murdered in September 2012, has been charged with that crime.
According to Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, Todd A. Stewart, 35, Bristol, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a charge of murder.
Miller’s body was found in a barrel in the St. Joseph River near the Six Span Bridge in Elkhart on Sept. 20, 2012. Miller had been shot to death before his body was placed in the barrel, according to Hill.
Hill said “a business associate” of the two men reported seeing Stewart shoot Miller behind the tattoo shop they owned at 23987 U.S. 33, Dunlap. The witness then helped Stewart load Miller’s body into a barrel in the back of Stewart’s pickup truck, according to Hill.
Hill said the investigation into Miller’s murder involved tracking Stewart’s cell phone use and surveillance video from the Goshen Meijer store, about one mile from the shop on U.S. 33. In that video, police said, Stewart is shown purchasing several items, including a dolly hand truck. Hill said the video evidence was contrary to a statement by Stewart about his whereabouts on the night of Sept. 7 and 8.
The prosecutor’s public statement issued Wednesday also said, “As the investigation progressed, several other individuals reported they had observed Todd Stewart driving a red Dodge pickup truck on the seventh day of September, 2012, and that it had been at the tattoo shop on the evening Miller disappeared. One witness specifically remembered having to remove an empty 55 gallon barrel from the bed of the truck before borrowing it on the evening of the 7th. That same witness reported that he borrowed the red Dodge truck again on the morning of the 8th day of September 2012, from Stewart’s home, and observed that there was damage to the truck, the bed appeared to have been cleaned, and there was a new ‘barrel cart’ now in the back of the truck but no 55-gallon barrel.”
Miller’s disappearance was reported by his sister Dawn Miller to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department Sept. 10.
Wednesday afternoon, Sheila Miller, Mark’s mother, said she was expecting the arrest because she was notified by investigators that one was pending.
“I am glad they are doing something, finally arresting people,” she said.
She also said she knew Stewart was a suspect but was asked not to say anything. She could not recall exactly how long the two men had been partners in the business.
“They had been partners for quite a while,” she said.
Stewart has been arrested at least four times before, dating to 2000. Three of the charges were for battery and one was for contempt of court, according to Elkhart County Jail records. Those records also say Stewart lives at 55615 Willow Bend Blvd., Bristol.
According to Elkhart County court records, Stewart was arrested Sept. 19, 2007 on a Class D felony charge of domestic battery in the presence of a child. On July 21, 2009 he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Class A misdemeanor battery and received a one-year suspended sentence and one year of probation, which he successfully completed in October 2010. He was also ordered to undergo counseling.
As the eight-month mark from the date of Miller’s murder approaches and the announcement of the arrest, Sheila Miller said there is has been little relief from the grief of her loss.
“It’s hard, very, very hard,” she said.