Edmonds resident Terrence Miller died of an apparent suicide early Monday morning in his Edmonds home, just hours before the jury pronounced him guilty in the 1972 cold-case murder of then 20-year-old Jody Loomis of Bothell.
Miller had been living at home since posting bond and being released on Friday, June 14, 2019.
The two-week Snohomish County Superior Court trial concluded at midday on Friday, and the seven-woman, five-man jury spent the remainder of the day in deliberation. Jurors reconvened Monday morning, and shortly afterward informed the court that they had reached a verdict. The judge and legal teams from both sides were informed, and directed to be in court at 1 p.m. to hear the jury’s decision.
As soon as the jury was seated, Judge David Kurtz informed them that Miller had died, but despite this the court would proceed with reading the verdict. The jury foreman then passed Kurtz the slip of paper with the verdict: guilty as charged of first-degree murder.
While the details of Miller’s death were not announced in open court, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement early Monday afternoon noting that deputies had responded just before 10 a.m. to a report of an apparent suicide at a home in unincorporated Edmonds. The deceased “is believed to be 78-year-old Terrence Miller who was on trial for the 1972 murder of 20-year-old Jody Loomis,” the statement said.
Positive identification, as well as cause and manner of death, will be determined by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner, the sheriff’s office said.
Connected to the 48-year-old crime through DNA recovered at the scene and kept in evidence storage, Miller became the latest in a growing number of persons linked to cold-case crimes through modern forensic genealogy, the same forensic tool California police used to apprehend and convict the Golden State Killer, now serving a life term. The technique compares DNA profiles from crime scenes with profiles in various DNA databases to identify close matches. Suspects are then identified by building family trees.
Miller was linked to crime through a DNA profile extracted from a semen stain on the victim’s left boot. He was arrested and charged in April, 2019 with the 1972 murder of Loomis.
Despite concerted efforts by his defense team to cast doubt on the reliability of the 48-year-old DNA sample, the jury reached a quick decision and found Miller guilty (see our earlier detailed coverage of the first and second weeks of the proceedings).
— By Larry Vogel