An Indiana man has been arrested in the cold case killing of a college professor, who was fatally attacked during a 2011 home invasion that also left his wife fighting for her own life, officials said.
During the early hours of Oct. 9, 2011, 911 dispatchers received a desperate call for help. It came from Linda Miller, who said she'd been attacked in the Wildwood Court home she shared with her husband, James.
The unknown man had viciously attacked Linda and then James, 58, who had come to his wife’s aid and engaged in an “extreme struggle” with the assailant, police said.
Police arrived on the scene within minutes and found James’ body outside by the mailbox. Linda was rushed to Elkhart General Hospital before she was transferred to Memorial Hospital, where her condition eventually improved.
The Elkhart County Coroner’s office would rule James had died from blunt-force and sharp-force trauma, but it was difficult to determine the total number of wounds he suffered because his body was so badly injured.
Hundreds of tips poured into the Goshen Police Department, but for years the case went unsolved. In 2013, the department enlisted the assistance of the Indiana State Police Cold Case Unit to aid in their investigation. Still, the case remained open.
“We would all love to see the case solved,” resident Gay Lehman told the Goshen News in 2014. “I think all the neighbors do. I think it would just bring closure to the whole event if we could get it solved.”
Then, several weeks after the seven-year anniversary of that frantic 911 call, authorities announced they had made an arrest.
Winston Earl Corbett, 23, was taken into custody on Sunday by officers with the multi-jurisdictional Elkhart County Homicide Unit. Formal charges of murder and attempted murder are expected to be filed by this coming Friday, Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker said.
“Winston Corbett was 16 years old at the time of this event,” Becker told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. “He is now 23. Although I cannot give specific facts and details of this investigation at this time, because it is still ongoing, what I can tell you is that this chapter is now closed and moving on to the next.”
Becker credited police work, the support of the community and advances in science with the break in the arrest.
“The problem is science had not caught up with where we are today,” Becker said. “Now that we have been able to identify some of the information that was actually located in the crime scene, then we are able to move forward.”
She would not say how Corbett had come to be identified as a suspect, or for how long he had been considered a suspect in the case.
Goshen Police Chief Jose Miller, who was an assistant chief when James was killed, said he hoped the arrest would help bring justice to his loved ones.
“We are hopeful that this arrest may now bring about some closure for the Miller family, friends, and community and trust this arrest will assist in the healing process for those most affected,” he said.
After Corbett’s arrest was announced, Linda posted on social media about the development in her and her husband's case.
“This is big news for us as a family,” Linda Miller wrote on Facebook. “It has been seven long years of waiting. Pray for us as we go through this difficult time.”
In addition to his wife, James left behind three children and a devastated community at Goshen College, where he had taught biology for more than 30 years. Only hours after his death, more than 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil in front of the school’s science building in honor of the slain teacher.
“I’ll see his picture and I’ll hear a comment and it still hasn't quite sunk in that he is no longer with us,” Goshen College President Dr. James Brenneman said at the time, WNDU-TV reported. “I just think we'll lose him in bits and pieces for a long time to come.”
Corbett is being held at the Elkhart County Jail and is expected to appear in Elkhart Circuit Court on Nov. 8.