After evading justice for 48 years in the 1972 murder of 20-year-old Jody Loomis, Terrence Miller didn't live to hear the guilty verdict against him. Police in Snohomish County, Washington, say the 78-year-old killed himself Monday morning, around three hours before a jury that started its deliberations Friday found him guilty of first-degree murder, the Everett Herald reports. The verdict was delivered despite a defense motion to dismiss the case following Miller's death. "I'm glad that we got to hear the verdict," said Jim Scharf, the lead sheriff's detective in the case. Loomis, who had been riding her bike to visit her horse in a stable near Bethell, was found dying on a remote dirt road on Aug. 23, 1972, the Washington Post reports. She had been raped and shot in the head.
The case was cold for decades until 2008, when a crime lab technician discovered a semen stain on a boot Loomis had been wearing. Searches of genetic information on genealogy websites—the same method that caught the Golden State Killer—identified Miller as a suspect in 2018 and he was arrested in 2019 after DNA recovered from a coffee cup he had discarded was found to be an exact match for the DNA on the boot. He was freed on $1 million bond after the arrest. The Herald notes that this appears to be the oldest case in the world in which forensic genealogy has led to a conviction. With Miller now guilty but dead, the next step in the case is unclear. Prosecutor Craig Matheson says there will be a follow-up hearing next month to "put this to bed properly." (Read more cold cases stories.)