Thursday, October 09, 2014


Three years ago today, Goshen College biology professor Dr. James Miller was brutally murdered at his home just a couple of blocks from the college campus.  You can read about it in a previous post here.

Some of you know that I traveled to Goshen to complete the semester in two of Dr. Miller's biology courses, and while there, I tried to glean as much information as I could about the tragedy. Sadly, three years have passed and there is virtually nothing known about the killer, motive, etc.

Here is the three-year update from the Goshen News:

GOSHEN — Three years after a mysterious attacker killed a Goshen College professor at his home and injured his wife, there is still hope the crime will be solved.

Thursday will mark the anniversary of the unsolved murder of James S. Miller. Miller, 58, was killed at around 1 a.m. Oct. 9, 2011, during a home invasion in the 1700 block of Wildwood Court, a neighborhood practically within shouting distance of the GC campus. Miller’s wife, Linda, was also home during the invasion and was seriously injured before managing to call 911.

Goshen police were dispatched to the Miller home at 1:06 a.m., and arrived at the normally quiet neighborhood east of the college campus just a few minutes later. During the 911 call, Linda Miller told police there was a robbery in progress and that she had been attacked by a white male.

Since that frantic call, hundreds of tips have poured into the Goshen Police Department related to the murder. But Millers’ attacker remains at large and has yet to be identified.

According to Tina Kingsbury, administrative assistant with the Goshen Police Department, the homicide of Miller continues to be an active and ongoing investigation to which detectives have been assigned and continue to work on diligently.

“From that day, the Goshen Police Department has been investigating and following every piece of evidence, every lead, and every tip which poured into the department,” Kingsbury said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “In 2013, the administration of the Goshen Police Department enlisted the assistance of the Indiana State Police Cold Case Unit to review all the case details and information pertaining to the James Miller homicide. The resources available to the Indiana State Police and their Cold Case Unit’s vast experience in investigating offenses of this magnitude continue to be a great asset to our ongoing investigation.”

Along those lines, Kingsbury noted that the Indiana State Police and the Goshen Police Department are urging anyone with knowledge of the Miller murder to contact the Goshen Police Department at 574-533-8661.

Life goes on
The fact that the case remains under investigation is good news for many of the neighbors and families who live in the Millers’ neighborhood, many of whom now go about their days with a little more caution than they did before the attack.
For most, gone are the days of leaving their doors, windows and garages unlocked. Numerous homes in the neighborhood have also had new security systems installed, and it’s not unusual to see chains on many a front door.

Even so, strength and hope have remained steadfast in the community, with many residents vowing they will not let the incident define them and how they go about their daily lives.
Laverne Nafziger, who resides just a few houses down from the Miller residence, is just such a resident.

“I am not afraid,” Nafziger said during an interview at her home Thursday afternoon. “I’ve decided that I can’t live with fear, because there’s nothing I can do. I can try to be more careful about locking the doors and things like that. I lock more than I did. And I think everybody in the neighborhood is a little more cautious.”

Nafziger noted that other than some of the new security upgrades in the neighborhood, the Miller murder has had very little effect on the dynamics of her typically quite, uneventful neighborhood.

“The neighborhood has really stayed the same,” Nafziger said. “One couple went to Greencroft, and so there was a change there. Another woman died, so there was a change there, and another family left just this year, but it was because of a job change. So nobody left because of it. The community has stayed strong.”

Through it all, Nafziger said she has never given up hope that Miller’s killer will eventually be brought to justice, a hope she shares with many others in the neighborhood, including nearby neighbor Gay Lehman.

“We would all love to see the case solved,” Lehman said from her home. “I think all the neighbors do. I think it would just bring closure to the whole event if we could get it solved.”

Like Nafziger, Lehman said she typically goes about her days now with a little more caution and awareness than she did before the attack, though she is adamant that she has not let the event define her.

“I think there are more security systems, and we keep things a little more locked up than we did before,” Lehman said. “So we’re just being a little more cautious, a little more careful. But I’m not living in fear. I’m not going to let the guy have that much power over me. We’re just going to go on with life and be a little more careful. I just wish they could get it solved, and I think everybody in Goshen feels that way. So we’re just hanging in there.”

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