Convicted Midstate serial killer accused of another murder

Joseph Miller in a booking photo from April 13, 2016.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A convicted serial killer is accused of killing another woman.  Joseph Miller, 51, is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Kelly Ward of Harrisburg.

Miller has been serving a life sentence in prison since 1992.  Police said he also killed four other women and assaulted 2 others in Dauphin and Perry Counties in the 1980’s and 1990’s

In February of 1997 a woman’s body was found in a Swatara Township landfill.  At the time the victim’s identity was unknown.

Police investigated until the case went cold.  It was reopened in 2007.  In the spring of 2014, investigators got confirmation that the remains belonged to Kelly Ward.

“She used to take me to the movies.  She used to make sure I knew how to ride a bike,” said Faun Ward, Ward’s cousin.  “She was just a great woman.  I miss her very much.”

“Kelly’s story began in the early part of 1986 when her family reported her missing to the Harrisburg Bureau of Police on February 11,” said Chief Jason Umberger, Swatara Township Police.

When Ward’s remains were found 11 years later there was speculation about Miller.

“I don’t want to speculate on something that could be totally false,” said Dauphin County coroner, Graham Hetrick, in 1997.

Investigators said they can now link Ward’s murder to Miller.

“The affidavit of probable cause points out significant similarities in physical evidence found at the previous crime scenes of the four other homicide victims of Joseph Miller as well as incriminating statements made by Miller and then more recently incriminating statements he made to investigators,” said Umberger.

Investigators said Ward’s description matched that of Miller’s other victims.  They were all African-American and known or suspected to be involved in prostitution.  Ward’s body was dumped in the same landfill as three of the other victims.  Ward’s murder happened during the same time period as the others Miller is convicted of killing.

Police also said Ward revisited the bodies.  In a 1992 interview with Miller, police said Miller admitted to a murder that seems similar to Ward’s.  Police said Miller told them he used a pipe to kill her, then marked the body’s resting place with tires.  Investigators said they found a pipe and tires at Ward’s crime scene.

The affidavit of probable cause states Miller claims he did not kill Ward but investigators said they know the truth.

“Joey Miller is the most prolific killer in Dauphin County History,” said Ed Marsico, Dauphin County District Attorney.

For Ward’s family, there is closure after 30 years of waiting.

“It’s very sad.  Liberating.  Anticipated and needed,” said Faun Ward.  “We’ve been dealing with this for a very long time.  We’ve missed her.  We love her and we’ve been waiting.  This is it.”

The affidavit of probable cause also revealed other disturbing details.  During a search of Miller’s home police found seven little African statuettes.  When asked if he had a statuette representing each one of his victims, Miller replied, “Yes.”

Miller is innocent in Ward’s murder until proven guilty.


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