Convicted serial killer Joe Miller pleads guilty to ’86, ’90 murders

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A convicted serial killer serving life in prison for the murders of three women has admitted in court that he killed two other women in 1986 and 1990.

Joseph D. Miller, 51, pleaded guilty in Dauphin County Court on Friday to the first-degree murders of Kelly Ann Ward in February 1986 and Jeanette Thomas in January 1990.

Judge Andrew Dowling accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced Miller to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment to be served consecutively to the other life terms he’s serving.

Kelly Ann Ward (Family photo)
Kelly Ann Ward (Family photo)

Prosecutors charged Miller with Ward’s death in April. Investigators had been unable to identify her remains until 2014, when DNA testing at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia concluded bone samples matched a sample provided by Ward’s family.

Ward, of Harrisburg, was reported missing in 1986. Her remains were found in February 1997 in a wooded area along Chambers Hill Road in Swatara Township, near a landfill where investigators in August 1992 had found the remains of two other victims; Selina Franklin and Stephanie McDuffey.

Miller, formerly of Steelton, told police in April that he had sex with Ward and Thomas, killed them during arguments over money, and buried their bodies in makeshift graves. District Attorney Ed Marsico released a video of the confession on Friday.

Thomas’ body was found in the landfill in 1990. Miller confessed to killing her years ago, but he wasn’t immediately charged because another man had been convicted of her murder.

Miller apologized during the confession, but he said nothing to the families of his victims inside the courtroom.

“He didn’t even show any remorse from what he took from not only us but the other families,” Erica Stoney, Thomas’ great-niece, said. “I’m just glad today justice was served, not only for my aunt but the other families.”

Miller was sentenced to death in March 1993 for murdering Franklin and McDuffey. In 2002, Dauphin County Judge Jeannine Turgeon vacated the death sentences because Miller is mentally disabled, a ruling upheld by the state Supreme Court.

He is also serving life in prison for the 1990 murder of Kathi Novena Shenck, also known as Pheonix Bell. Authorities said Miller ran over her several times with his car and buried her body in a dump in Perry County.

WARNING: The video below contains graphic language.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC27 News App and the ABC27 Weather App for your phone and tablet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s