UPDATE: Coroner releases autopsy results in murder of Goshen College professor

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

A Goshen College professor was killed and his wife seriously injured in a home invasion early Sunday morning.

It happened just after 1 a.m. at a ranch-style home in the 1700-block of Wildwood Court. The two homeowners, James Miller, 58, and his wife Linda, were both inside at the time.

Goshen police say Linda Miller called 911 after she was attacked by a man and struck with an object. She even called out for a neighbor to help.

Miller’s neighbor, Sanford Lehman, recalls waking up to the alarming sounds. “I said to my wife, ‘something is going on’… the voice was still calling out 'help me help me', I’ll never for get that.”

James Miller was also attacked during the home invasion; he suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Elkhart County Coroner's Office performed his autopsy Monday afternoon. It determined Miller died from blunt-force and sharp-force trauma. The coroner said it was hard to determine a total number of wounds because Miller's body was injured so badly.

Linda was taken Elkhart General Hospital before doctors transferred her to Memorial Hospital where she had improved to stable condition Tuesday night.

Neighbors say the Miller's had been painting Saturday afternoon and left the garage open to ventilate their home. However, police will not say just how the unidentified suspect got inside.

Authorities remained on the scene all day Sunday and most of Monday dusting for finger prints and searching for clues, attempting to find an answer to what went on at this house.

"It’s very upsetting and you have some animosity toward the person that did this,” longtime neighbor John Ingold said.

James Miller was a father of three; two of which attend Goshen High School. Luckily, none of the children were at home late Saturday night. Neighbors say two of the kids were on a late night bus returning home from a band competition in Indianapolis. They arrived back in Goshen around 2 a.m., less than an hour after the attack.

James Miller taught biology at Goshen College for more than 30 years. On Sunday night, more than a thousand people attended a candlelight vigil in front of the school’s Science Building.

Goshen College President Dr. James Brenneman addressed the crowd and a campus priest gave a short sermon.

"I’ll see his picture and I’ll hear a comment and it still hasn't quite sunk in that he is no longer with us. I just think we'll loose him in bits and pieces for a long time to come,” Dr. Brenneman said.

Remembered as the most dedicated of professors, the school also held a large gathering Monday morning at its chapel. Inside the Science Building, students and colleagues wrote how Professor Miller gave them a chance when no one else would.

"I don't know how to handle it, we're not trained how to prepare for a colleague’s death like this. It will difficult to manage,” Professor of Physics, Dr. John Buschert said.

Neighbors say the Miller family is as nice as families come and that it has no enemies. That news has folks in Goshen worried that this attack may have been completely random.

Goshen police will only communicate with the media via email. Therefore, NewsCenter 16 is working off two very basic department press releases, neither or which detail suspect entry points, weapons used or potential motives in the case.

If you have any information about this case, call Goshen Police at (574) 533-8661 or call Crime Stoppers at (574) 288-STOP.

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