GOSHEN – WSBT has learned the results of two autopsies performed Monday on 58-year-old James Miller, a Goshen College professor murdered during a home invasion Sunday morning. According to coroner John White, the cause of death was multiple blunt force and sharp force injuries. They do not know if the blunt force trauma was caused by a weapon or by kicks and punches.
WSBT talked with Miller's neighbors just hours after the attacks occurred.
“I heard these cries for help – ‘Help me! Help me!’" said Sandford Lehman.
Around 1 a.m. Lehman heard those cries coming from the area of the nearby home of Jim and Linda Miller in the 1700 block of Wildwood Court. Police say a man broke into the residence and attacked the couple.
“I was trying to determine whether it was a man or woman,” said Lehman about the cries for help. “It was just simply ‘Help me!’ numerous times and at the same time a dog was barking loudly.”
Linda was able to get away from the intruder and call 911. Two minutes later, police arrived at the home and pronounced Jim dead at the scene.
The suspect had left the scene before police arrived.
Neighbors, community caught off guard
“Usually, you know, in small town like this, things like this don't happen,” said Kevin Yoder, who lives nearby. “So it’s usually South Bend, Chicago, places like that”
“It has just been very quiet, very nice, and then to have something like this happen…just, it’s very frightening,” said neighbor Brenda Houser.
It’s not only the neighbors who are left in shock and disbelief – the entire Goshen College campus is in mourning. Professor Miller was a very popular and well-known teacher in the biology department.
“We are a very close-knit community, so people not only knew Professor Miller…most of our students have a first name relationship with all of our professors,” said Richard Aguirre, Goshen College director of public relations.
“And so Jim was known and respected and loved by students, and Jim touched the lives of countless students and faculty members here. He was responsible for primary instruction to our upper-level classes in the sciences having to do with biology, so all of our nursing students, all of the pre-med students, pre-veterinary, a lot of our health specialties would have taken classes from Jim Miller or are taking them now…so he is well known by many nurses in our area, as well as physicians, who came through Goshen College."
Linda's condition as of Monday
Linda had been injured in the attack. Police say she was taken to Goshen General Hospital and then transferred to Memorial Hospital. She had surgery Sunday.
The following message was posted to the Clinton Frame Mennonite Church website on Monday: "Clinton Frame Mennonite Church appreciates the prayers and support of the community around us for the Miller family in the tragic death of Jim Miller. Linda Miller has been serving as Interim Pastor of Children’s Ministries at the church. Linda was also injured and her condition is stable and she is recovering."
The Miller children
Two of the couple's children are members of the Goshen High School marching band. Luckily they were out of town at a band competition when the incident took place.
Now the children, their classmates and the community must cope with this tragedy. Click here for a report from WSBT's Ed Ernstes on how both the Millers' church and high school are working to help those impacted by the attack.
In a news release issued Monday afternoon, a Goshen police spokesperson said the following: "There have been multiple inquiries from our fellow residents in regard to staying safe during this time. We encourage residents now, as always to follow safety measures such as locking your doors, don’t walk at night alone, and reporting any suspicious activity. You know your neighbors and your neighborhood. You know who belongs there. If something feels wrong, call for our assistance. We are here for the residents of Goshen."
The Goshen College community gathered Sunday night for a candlelight vigil at the science building on campus: Click here to see photos
Facebook page memorial
Students and friends began posting remembrances on a Facebook page: A Memorial for Dr. James S. Miller - Memories and Prayers
Statement from Goshen College’s president
"It is with profound sadness that I inform you of the death this morning of Professor James S. Miller, 58, a professor of biology at Goshen College since 1980.
"The Goshen Police Department has issued a press release to the news media reporting that as the result of a home invasion robbery, Professor Miller and his wife, Linda, were attacked early on Oct. 9. Jim died at the scene and Linda was wounded, and was being treated at a regional hospital.
"Police are conducting an investigation into the death, so we encourage all members of the campus community to cooperate fully. Police have asked anyone with information in connection with the case to please contact the Goshen Police Department at (574) 533-8661 or the Michiana Crime Stoppers at (800) 342-STOP.
"Words cannot adequately convey our grief over the enormity of this tragedy. We offer our prayers and support to the Miller and Jeschke families and we ask that you please keep them in your prayers. We also will be holding in our prayers Professor Miller’s students, colleagues, friends and alumni.
"In the coming hours we will pass along any information we receive about arrangements. We also will be contacting Professor Miller’s students about arrangements being made for his classes.
"At 8 p.m. tonight, there will be a brief time of prayer and reflection for the campus community outside the south entrance to the Science Building to give all an opportunity to grieve and to pray for our brother and friend.
"May God grant us peace.
"James E. Brenneman"