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A Washington man accused of a decades-old cold case killing died by suicide shortly before he was found guilty by a jury, according to officials.
Terrence Miller, 78, was found unresponsive at an Edmonds, Washington residence around 10 a.m. on Nov. 9, just hours before a jury found him guilty in the 1972 slaying of Jody Loomis, a case had gone unsolved for nearly half a century. The guilty verdict was read shortly after 1 p.m., Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook.
“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 Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said in a separate social media statement.
A family member who found Miller’s body alerted authorities, and Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Miller died from a gunshot wound. The death was ruled a suicide.
“We got an answer, whether Mr. Miller was there or not,” Prosecutor Craig Matheson told CNN. “It does not diminish the verdict."
Miller had previously been freed on a $1 million bail, pending the decision in his case, the outlet reported.
Matheson described Loomis’ family’s reaction to the news as “stoic.”
“I’m glad that we got to hear the verdict,” Jim Scharf, one of the lead detectives who oversaw the case, told the Seattle Times. “I think that was good for the family.”
On Aug. 23, 1972, Loomis went for a bicycle ride to a nearby stable where she kept her horse, according to county authorities. The 20-year-old was last seen crossing the highway around 5 p.m. Roughly 30 minutes later her naked body was found in the woods. She had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber gun, according to an arrest report, the New York Times reported.
For decades, Loomis’ death baffled investigators — until DNA technology broke the case wide open in recent years.
DNA on Loomis’ hiking boot, discovered in 2008, was cross-checked with Miller’s ancestry records and eventually led to his arrest, according to the Seattle Times.
The genetic material, uploaded to GEDmatch, initially matched a number of his relatives. Police later collected “an abandoned DNA sample” from a coffee cup Miller had allegedly discarded at a casino, which ultimately matched the DNA evidence collected from the crime scene, according to the Seattle Times.
Miller was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in April 2019.
“After more than 46 years of searching for her killer, we finally have some answers for Jody’s family,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said at the time. “Thanks to the relentless persistence of our cold case team and new DNA technology, we are one step closer to justice for Jody.”
A spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Wednesday.
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