Documents provide more details on suspect in cold case murder

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    Captain Rob Palmer, right, speaks at the press conference while Craig Matheson, Snohomish County  deputy prosecuting attorney, looks on.

    Court documents from the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office provided more details regarding the police work that led to the arrest Wednesday of 77-year-old Terrence Miller as a suspect in the 1972 cold case rape and murder of 20-year-old Jody Loomis of Bothell.

    Miller was arrested at his home in the 15900 block of 52nd Avenue West, which has an Edmonds post office address but is located in unincorporated Snohomish County.

    In a Thursday morning news conference announcing the arrest, Snohomish County investigations Capt. Rob Palmer said the DNA collected from a discarded coffee cup matched that of semen collected from Loomis’ boots after her body was discovered.

    “Today we are one step closer to finding justice for Jody Loomis and her family,” Palmer said.

    Miller, who was identified as a suspect through genetic genealogy, is being held in Snohomish County Jail on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, with bail set at $1 million. His arraignment is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, April 15.

    A photo of Terrence Miller, dated around the time of Jody Loomis’ murder. (Photo courtesy Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

    Detectives believe Miller was living in the Edmonds area at the time of the murder, approximately five miles from where Loomis’ body was found.

    According to probable cause documents, DNA evidence from the semen stain — preserved since the 1972 cold case murder — was uploaded to a public genetic genealogy website in August 2018. At that time, a connection was found to an Edmonds family with seven siblings, including Miller.

    “This was the first time Miller’s name came to our attention,” Palmer said.

    Based on information from the genealogists, undercover officers from the Snohomish County Regional Narcotics Task Force began following Terrence Miller. On Aug. 28, 2018 law enforcement officers observed the suspect at the Tulalip Casino “and retrieved a coffee cup that he threw into a garbage can as they watched,” probable cause documents said. Forensic scientists at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab were able to extract a DNA profile from the coffee cup, and indicated that it matched the DNA profile from the semen left on the victim’s boot.

    Charging documents also noted that undercover detectives in November 2018 visited a ceramics shop operated by the suspect and his wife in the back of their unincorporated Edmonds home. While inside, one of the detectives observed a May 5, 2018 Everett Herald newspaper documenting the recent cold case arrest of William Talbott for the murder of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg in 1987.

    “At the time detectives saw this newspaper in defendant’s ceramic shop the paper would have been almost seven months old,” the documents noted. “A fair inference could also be drawn that defendant was keeping track of the techniques law enforcement was using to solve cold cases.”

    The probable cause documents describe Miller as a lifelong resident of Snohomish County who spent at least part of his childhood in Edmonds. He attended Edmonds High School, but did not appear to have graduated. The defendant’s Facebook page indicated that he started work with the IUOE Local 302 in 1958, working as a heavy equipment operator across Western Washington, the prosecutor’s office said.

    Miller has been in trouble with the law over the years, starting at age 18 when he was booked on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and willful destruction of property, documents said. While living in Mountlake Terrace in 1968, Miller also was cited for lewd contact after exposing himself to a 17-year-old girl who was walking on 48th Avenue West at 224th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace. She was able to get the license plate of the truck he was driving and reported it to police.

    — By Teresa Wippel

     

     

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