Almost 50 years after brutal rape and murder, DNA cracks cold case, suspect commits suicide before conviction

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson talks about DNA found on a shoe, worn by victim Jody Loomis. Credit: Andy Bronson/The Herald
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson talks about DNA found on a shoe, worn by victim Jody Loomis. Credit: Andy Bronson/The Herald

For 47 years, the case remained cold, with little evidence of who assaulted and murdered [20-year-old Jody] Loomis — until last year, when a DNA sample from a coffee cup matched semen found on Loomis’s boot. Police said they used genetic genealogy to trace it to Terrence Miller, who was charged last April in her death.

On [November 9], though, just hours before a jury convicted Miller of first-degree murder, the 78-year-old defendant died in an apparent suicide at his home, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

According to investigators, the DNA sample from the cup was the exact match to the sample found on Loomis’s boot.

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Laura Martin, Miller’s public defender, argued the DNA sample on the boot was dubious and the lab’s procedures caused a “miscarriage of justice.”

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At 1 p.m. on [November 9], three hours after sheriff’s deputies found Miller dead, the jury convicted him of first-degree murder. A follow-up hearing is set for Dec. 17, where the prosecution will argue Miller’s family should pay fines in the case.

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In a statement to The Post, Martin reasserted her client’s innocence, adding the entire situation, including Loomis’s murder, is a “terrible tragedy.”

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“Death seemed preferable to letting a jury decide a verdict on tainted evidence,” she said.

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