77-year-old suspect in 1972 homicide pleads not guilty

DNA led detectives to Terrence Miller, who is charged with killing Jody Loomis, 20, 47 years ago.

Terrence Miller, a retiree living in the Edmonds area, pleaded not guilty on April 15 to the first-degree murder of Jody Loomis of Bothell in 1972.

Loomis’ family has spent the past 47 years waiting for her killer to be caught.

Miller, 77, appeared on a video screen in a dress shirt and a striped tie for his arraignment in Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett.

According to charging papers, Miller’s semen was found on a hiking boot Loomis wore on the day she was raped, shot in the head and left to die in the woods near what’s now known as Mill Creek Road.

Advances in forensic DNA technology led investigators to build a family tree for the suspect, with the help of public genetic databases and the sleuthing of a private genealogist.

A judge set bail at $1 million on April 14. Miller’s next court hearing has been set for May 9, with a tentative trial date of June 7.

An arraignment was delayed to give a defense attorney more time to prepare. A Superior Court judge granted a motion on April 12 allowing Miller to dress in civilian clothes for future court hearings.

During the investigation, genetic genealogy research pointed to six sons of an Edmonds couple. One of the sons was Miller, who lived in the Edmonds area in both 1972 and 2019.

Undercover police watched Miller throw away a cup of coffee at the Tulalip Resort Casino in August 2018. Testing at a state crime lab confirmed DNA on the cup matched the male genetic profile on the boot, according to prosecutors.

Miller was interviewed at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office the week of April 8, but he did not admit to the crime, sheriff’s detective Jim Scharf said.

Loomis left her home on Winesap Road, between Bothell and what is now the city of Mill Creek, riding a white 10-speed Japanese bicycle on Aug. 23, 1972. She was going to see her horse, Saudi, at a stable about six miles away.

That warm summer afternoon she pedaled alongside farms and trees.

Nearly a half-century later, it’s a neighborhood of condos, chain stores and parking lots.

From a fruit stand on the corner of 164th Street Southwest and Bothell-Everett Highway, a teenage girl watched Loomis pause on her bike, before riding onto what was then known as Penny Creek Road. It has since been renamed Mill Creek Road.

A pair of target shooters drove up the road around 5:30 p.m. and stopped to move a tree out of the way. There they found Loomis. She had received a gunshot wound behind her right ear from a .22-caliber pistol. She did not survive the ride to an Edmonds hospital.

Jody Loomis is pictured with her horse in 1972. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

Jody Loomis is pictured with her horse in 1972. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

Detectives explored many leads — none of which led to an arrest.

In more recent years, crime scene evidence was re-examined for testing, and a lab discovered the semen on the boot.

It’s the oldest case in the county for which investigators have DNA evidence.

Through the DNA profile, cold case detectives ruled out many members of a biker gang that was active in the area, Scharf said. Members had scattered across the country.

Miller, a retired heavy-equipment operator, worked all over Western Washington, but his house is five miles from his childhood home, according to charging papers. He married a girl, 14, when he was 18. He has been accused of sexual crimes at least five times since the 1960s, court records show. In all but one of those cases, charges were either deferred or never pressed.

Miller was 30 years old at the time of Loomis’ killing. The arrest was announced at a press conference Thursday in Everett.

Terrence Miller, taken around 1972. Courtesy photo

Terrence Miller, taken around 1972. Courtesy photo

For years, the suspect sold ceramics out of his home a few blocks north of 164th Street Southwest, advertising the business, Miller’s Cove, with a sign on his picket fence. He was taken into custody without incident, when he came home from a brief outing with his wife of 42 years, according to the sheriff’s office.

After news broke of the arrest, cold case detectives began receiving fresh tips, Scharf said.

Loomis had a horse bridle with her on the day she was killed. It was never recovered. So detectives hope to find out if Miller owned a bridle in the 1970s.

They also want to know if he had a .22-caliber pistol, and what kind of car he was driving.

Tips can be directed to the sheriff’s office at 425-388-3845.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.