A 78-year-old suspect in a Washington cold case killed himself just hours before a jury convicted him of murder, authorities said. Terrence Miller had eluded investigators for nearly 50 years in the killing of 20-year-old Jody Loomis, who was raped and shot in the head after being attacked as she was headed to a stable to visit her horse, police said.
Genetic genealogy led investigators to Miller, who was arrested last year and charged with first-degree murder after DNA testing not available at the time of Loomis' killing linked semen found on her hiking boot to Miller, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.
Miller, who had pleaded not guilty, was released on $1 million bail and was living just outside Seattle when family members discovered his body on Monday, officials said. An autopsy concluded his death was suicide, but a cause of death was not released.
Hours after Miller's body was found, a jury in Snohomish County Superior Court convicted Miller of murder. The panel had been hearing evidence for two weeks, and was not told of the suspect's death, authorities said.
Loomis' death confounded investigators from the beginning. A couple out target shooting found her partially clothed body near a dirt road on Aug. 23, 1972. Semen was found on her body, and on her boot heel.
Samples were sent to a state lab in 2008, but no match was found. Ten years later, detectives worked with Parabon NanoLabs, and created a family tree of possibilities based on the boot heel semen.
The laboratory works with law enforcement to find genetic matches between crime evidence and DNA testing results found on genetic genealogy sites.
Washington authorities began tailing Miller, and recovered a coffee cup he threw in the trash outside a casino, investigators said. The DNA on the cup matched that from the semen sample, authorities said.
On Tuesday, the victim's brother, John Loomis, told NBC News he would have rather seen Miller go to prison.
"He got away with it for 48 years," he said