A Snohomish County judge reduced bail by $250,000 on Friday for the Edmonds man charged with murdering Jody Loomis in 1972.
Bail had been set at $1 million for Terrence Miller, 77, soon after a long-awaited arrest in April.
The killing of Loomis, 20, had gone unsolved for more than four decades. Detectives believe she was raped and executed with a gunshot to the head on a dirt road Aug. 23, 1972, in what’s now Mill Creek.
Semen on one of her boots led detectives to Miller, a lifelong resident of the Edmonds area.
An Oregon genealogist was able to build a family tree for the suspect based on the crime scene evidence. Police found a discarded sample of DNA — from a cup of coffee that Miller sipped at the Tulalip Resort Casino in August 2018 — proved to be a match for the DNA on the boot, according to charging papers.
Miller was arrested at his Edmonds home and charged with first-degree murder.
Superior Court Judge David Kurtz heard a defense motion seeking to cut his bail in half, if Miller surrendered his passport and agreed to GPS monitoring.
According to defense attorney Laura Martin, his wife suffered a recent stroke that left her largely disabled, unable to use a computer, and unable to run their ceramics business by herself.
Her husband was her caretaker. Relatives wrote letters to the judge about Miller’s character.
“All of them display that he’s loyal, he’s honest, that he’s a man of high morals,” Martin said.
The deputy prosecutor, Craig Matheson, countered that Miller has a history of sexual abuse. Court papers show he’d been accused of sex crimes at least five times, in 1968, 1978, twice in 1990, and once in 1999. The cases ended in one conviction for lewd conduct, one deferred prosecution, two with no charges because the girls later said it could’ve been an accident, and another declined case because the statute of limitations likely expired.
Matheson argued that Miller would spend life in prison if found guilty, so he had a strong incentive to flee. He was concerned that Miller could harm himself, outside of the jail walls.
“We want our day in court,” the prosecutor said.
Matheson asked to maintain bail at $1 million.
Jody Loomis’ sister, Jana, told the judge that if Miller were released he could disappear, and the family would be forced to relive their nightmare.
“On that day the murderer stole Jody’s life,” she said. “He also stole from Jody those that loved her, and plunged us into a dark hole of grief that, 46-plus years later, we still endure. … Now for those of us that do remain, all we have now is the hope and justice and accountability for the hideous theft of Jody’s life. And in the 46-plus years since that day, the accused has celebrated birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. He has married. He has had children. … He has lived his life.”
Miller’s tentative trial date is set for October.
Kurtz noted if the defendant posted $1 million bond in the meantime, under conditions suggested by the prosecutor’s office, Miller would be “pretty much free as he pleased.” His only conditions were to not contact witnesses, to have no weapons or firearms, and to commit no new crimes. Kurtz added the conditions suggested by the defense Friday, adding a note that a home monitoring company must submit daily reports tracking Miller’s movements.
The judge also reduced bail to $750,000, citing Miller’s lack of conviction history, his age and his ties to the community.
Linda Miller married Terrence about 43 years ago. She made a brief, reluctant statement to the judge.
“I really don’t know how to say it,” she began, “because sometimes I have trouble with my words.”
She explained she did not submit a letter because she needed help writing and spelling.
She said she’d had many good years with her husband.
“To be alone anymore is very hard,” she said. “Our ages are minimal, basically, to the end of our life, and I’m not ready for that yet. So if you — would you please — do the best we can do?”
Her husband looked toward a window, never shifting his gaze, while she spoke in his direction.