Who Killed James Miller: The challenges (Part 3)

In order to understand why the murder of James Miller was so shocking, we're exploring who exactly he was. James Miller was a dedicated professor at Goshen College, a devout Mennonite and a model airplane enthusiast. Miller was not a man who anyone imagined would die in a senseless murder.

By the admission of his peers, Miller worked to make the college a destination for future doctors. As the chair of the biology department, acceptance rates to med school were very high.

"I think that's evidence that Jim was a capable teacher." Dr. Carl Helrich, retired Goshen College physics professor, said.

Helrich worked with Miller for decades.

“Jim was a little bit stiff.” Helrich said of his former colleague in an admirable way.

He remembers Miller struggling to incorporate humor into his class. He would find jokes to tell his students at the beginning of class. Those jokes didn't always hit the mark.

“It doesn’t say anything about his teaching ability. It was just one of the fun things about Jim.” Helrich said.

However, Miller's work ethic was never an issue. Helrich recalls a time when he asked several science professor to work over the summer with him without pay.

“What faculty volunteers their time for the summer to work with students?” Helrich said laughing.

When Miller wasn't at the college, he could often be found flying model airplanes he built himself. He was a longtime member of the Millersburg RC Modelers.

“Jim was an active member, a good flyer and anytime there was work to be done, Jim was there.” RJ Monroe, who knew Miller through the club, said. 

The two went out flying the week before Miller's death. Monroe says they were testing new technology Miller had installed on an aircraft.

“He was doing things that some of us were not even attempting.” Monroe said.

Monroe now owns one of Miller's old planes. It has bomb bay doors that open with the flip of a switch on a remote control.

“We called this the candy drop aircraft.” Monroe said.

The plane would drop candy for kids during events.

“And the kids of course would go hysterical.” Monroe said. “And that again was one of the sad parts, that a gentle man who had that nature would die so violently.”

A gentle man, who, by all accounts, was dedicated to his Mennonite faith.

“A commitment to non-violence is one of the most creative powers in the world.” Mennonite pastor and professor, David Miller said.

David Miller sat down with ABC57 to discuss the faith and its teaching of non-violence.

“It turns me toward the world and the causes of violence to say, ‘How do we live our lives and how do we engage?’” David Miller explained. "One of the areas, particularly in this country, that that conviction has come out in is Mennonites teaching and instruction on being conscientious objectors to war.”

Fighting was not in James Millers nature.

Share this article: