Focus on Mental Illness & Violence: Pa Serial Killer Joseph Miller

Re/Post: Article April 2016: Christian Alexandersen |The grisly history of serial killer Joseph Miller’s crimes | PennLive.com : June 30, 1992: A Harrisburg woman with a history of prostitution staggers to a secluded home in Wheatfield Township in Perry County. She told police she was raped, forced to perform oral sex, then stabbed more than 25 times in the head with a screwdriver before being left for dead. Twenty years after Joseph Miller was charged with murdering three women in Dauphin County — he later confessed to a fourth murder — he has been charged with yet another killing.

Miller, 51, Tuesday was charged in the death of a woman whose remains were found in 1997 along Chambers Hill Road in Swatara Township. The woman’s body was found about a mile away from where the bodies of three of hits other victims were found.

District Attorney Ed Marsico described Miller as “the most prolific killer in Dauphin County history.”

Miller, who remains in the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, was convicted of the kidnapping, beating and rape of Selina Franklin, 18, and Stephanie McDuffey, 23, in 1993.

He was later confessed to killing another woman, Jeanette Thomas, at the same landfill. A man who had pleaded guilty in Thomas’ slaying was released after a DNA test confirmed Miller’s confession, but Miller was not tried.

Miller also killed Kathi Novena Shenck in 1990 by running over her after she fled his car at a dump in Perry County. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her slaying.

Miller, who dropped out of school in the fourth grade, was originally sentenced to death but the ruling was overturned in when a Dauphin County judge found that he was mentally handicapped.

Marsico said in 2008 that mental health experts determined Miller had a low IQ but he functioned in society as a husband, father and as an employee. Miller planned the murders and targeted minority women, which showed premeditation, Marsico said.

“We believe that Joey Miller deserves the death penalty,” Marsico said in 2008.

Miller’s killings got a lot of attention in the 1990s, not just for the number of people he killed but the level of brutality involved.

Franklin was just 18 years old and was simply looking for a ride when she was raped and murdered by Miller. McDuffey was eight months pregnant when she was killed.

Two other women survived attacks by Miller before he was arrested. In one case, a Harrisburg woman survived after she was stabbed in the head 25 times with a screwdriver and left for dead in a wooded area in Perry County.

16 years ago: A profile of serial killer Joseph Miller

Another survivor said Miller raped her, bound her in duct tape, beat her on the head with beer bottles and told her no one would be able to identify her body when he was done with her.

Here are a timeline for Joseph D. Miller’s crimes:

May 16, 1987: Selina Franklin, 18, of the 2000 block of Green Street disappears. She is last seen by her friends with a man named “Joey” who gave them a ride. Miller is questioned but says he dropped her off. A necklace, later identified as Franklin’s, is found in his car, but Miller’s wife claims it is hers.

Nov. 6, 1989: Stephanie McDuffey, eight months’ pregnant, fails to return to her Bellevue Street home. The 23-year-old woman’s mother reports her missing, but police find nothing.

Jan. 11, 1990: Jeannette Thomas, 25, disappears after leaving an Allison Hill bar with a man fitting Miller’s description. Her body is found in a Swatara Township. landfill.

William Kelly, a 31-year mentally handicapped man, confesses to the crime, pleads guilty and is sentenced to 10 to 20 years. He is later released when Miller confesses.

Feb. 27, 1990: The body of Kathy Novena Shenck is found at a roadside dump in Penn Township in Perry County. The Harrisburg woman was run over by a car several times.

June 30, 1992: A Harrisburg woman with a history of prostitution staggers to a secluded home in Wheatfield Township in Perry County. She told police she was raped, forced to perform oral sex, then stabbed more than 25 times in the head with a screwdriver before being left for dead.

Miller is photographed withdrawing money from an ATM with the victim in his car. The Pennsylvania State Police place him under surveillance.

Aug. 6, 1992: A Conrail security guard finds Miller’s car on Conrail property in Susquehanna Township. A nude, badly battered woman, bound in duct tape, is found in a ditch nearby. The car is traced to Miller, who surrenders after a rooftop standoff where he threatens suicide.

Aug. 12, 1992: Miller leads police to the skeletons of McDuffey and Franklin and says he bludgeoned them to death after sex. He later confesses to the other murders and attacks.

March 25, 1993: A jury recommends death for Miller after convicting him of first-degree murder for the murders of Franklin and McDuffey.

February 2000: The state Supreme Court upholds the death sentences. Gov. Tom Ridge signs the third death warrant on Miller, and execution by lethal injection is scheduled.

August 25, 2002: Dauphin County Judge Jeannine Turgeon ruled that Miller was mentally handicapped and the state could not execute him because it would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

July 24, 2008: The state Supreme Court ruled that the Turgeon acted in her discretion to vacate Miller’s death sentences due to his mental disability.

re/post: The grisly history of serial killer Joseph Miller’s crimes