Real time investigation: Who killed James Miller? The sketch and person of interest
Only two days after Goshen College professor James Miller was murdered during a home invasion, Goshen police released a composite sketch of the killer. The sketch was drawn with the help of the surviving victim in the crime, Miller's wife, Linda. The decision to release the sketch so quickly, is more than likely not the decision current investigators would have made.
"No. I probably would not have (released the sketch)." Elkhart County Prosecutor, Vicki Becker, said. "But it's because I'm more concerned about one thing in proving the case years down the road. I certainly respect why they did. They were looking for potential information."
It turns out, composite sketches are made more often than the public may know. Investigators don't always release them. Many times, the sketches are used only within law enforcement without the public ever seeing them.
"I don't recall ever, in working 23 to 24 years in investigations, that I've personally ever released a sketch." Investigator Mark Daggy, Elkhart County Homicide Unit, said.
ABC57 sat down with Indiana State Police sketch artist, Master Trooper Taylor Bryant. He was trained to draw composite sketches by the FBI.
"Normally a sketch is drawn, it gets to the investigative department and, from there, with other leads and nuances of the case, they then decide if a sketch is released, because some sketches may not be helpful." He explained.
Bryant did not draw the sketch in the Miller case. But, he explains it looks like the artist used the same techniques he learned from federal agents.
"I'd say that's a good sketch. Even a line drawing can identify someone. So, what makes a good sketch is if it resembles what the suspect looks like." He said.
"Sometimes there are other leads you need to follow first." Investigator Daggy explained.
The sketch in this case looked a lot like a young man who was arrested the same day the drawing was released. 18-year-old Chad Weddle was eventually convicted of a string of burglaries he committed in September of 2011. According to him, he was considered a prime suspect in the murder for years.
"When I was in the cop car, they just told me to be honest." Weddle recalled. "I told them everything. I was surprised they started pointing fingers at me (for the murder)."
Weddle says Goshen detectives interrogated him all night. He says they showed him a picture of the beaten victims.
"I was shocked." He said. "They kept asking, 'What else are you not telling us?'"
Eventually, he says one detective walked him through their theory of how they believed the crime unfolded. Telling him details about what happened inside the Miller's home. Even describing the murder weapon.
"People automatically assumed it was me. The sketch looks like me." He said.
Weddle spent time in prison for the burglaries. He was released in 2014.
Even after Goshen Police announced he was no longer a person of interest, he says detectives continued to interrogate him for years.
Vicki Becker says there have been other suspects and people of interest. She says she's sure there will be more.