Church deacon arrested over cold case murder


The Daily Mail reports…

“A disabled 78-year-old church deacon living quietly in East Texas has been arrested for a murder committed 33 years ago and 1,300 miles away.

After his arrest, the wife of the man known as Roy Eubanks told local media she knew his secret – that he had killed a man in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, many years ago.

What Gennell Eubanks, 62, didn’t know was that her husband’s name is, in fact, Joseph Lewis Miller, and the Harrisburg killing is not the only dark secret from his past.

In 1959, Miller, now 78, shot married couple John and Donna Lumpkins and pleaded guilty to murder after John Lumpkins died of his injuries.

He was sentenced to life in prison on January 22, 1960.

Miller applied to have his life sentence commuted, and his request was granted in 1971 by then governor Raymond P Shafer after Miller had served 11 years.

Fewer than 10 years later, authorities say Joseph Lewis Miller fled Pennsylvania after shooting a man in a parking lot outside a hotel in 1981.

He was charged with murder and three other felonies, but the case remained unsolved for three decades until investigators translated a previous tip that Miller had been living in Mexico under an alias – the name of a deceased cousin.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Harrisburg traced that name to rural Mineola, Texas, a town of 4,500 people. Miller confessed to the shooting shortly after his arrest, authorities said.

People in Mineola knew Miller as Roy Eubanks, a former employee of the local paper plant who was collecting disability checks and walked with a cane. He married at least twice in Texas, most recently in 2010.

His wife told The Associated Press on Monday that he had said he killed someone in ‘the accident that happened’ many years ago.

‘He said it was an accident. He was trying to protect his brother, because a man was trying to kill him,’ she told Penn Live.

According to U.S. Marshals, Miller was charged in the 1981 death of Thomas Waller, 34, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Patriot-News reported that Waller was found inside his car with a gunshot wound to his head.

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons said the agency could not immediately produce the records related to Miller’s 1971 commutation Monday.

It remains unclear how Miller got from Pennsylvania to Texas, or why he chose the town of Mineola, about 85 miles east of Dallas.

The man Gennell Eubanks knows as Roy Eubanks has arthritis, a Pacemaker and walks with a cane, she said. She has never spoken to his relatives, some of whom she believes live in Pennsylvania, and said he hadn’t seen them since he fled.

‘They didn’t want him to come back,’ she said. ‘They told him to leave.’

Mineola residents said Miller had lived there likely since the 1980s. City administrator David Stevenson said Miller served on a handful of town boards and commissions and came to him for advice on obtaining a reverse mortgage.

‘He always wanted to be active in the community… always wanting to help,’ Stevenson said. ‘I don’t know anything bad or negative about him.’

Eubanks was also a deacon at a local Baptist church, the U.S. Marshals said.

‘This was a real good man,’ Gennell told Penn Live, adding that the Eubanks she knew was always eager to help neighbors and friends before his health began to fail in recent years, and the he didn’t drink, smoke or curse.

Linda Smith, manager at the wood treatment plant where Miller worked, said she remembered him going on disability after an accident at the plant in the 1980s. Smith described him as ‘a nice, friendly gentleman.’

Miller did not have a state criminal record under either his name or his believed alias, and Wood County Sheriff Jim Brown said he did not know of any prior arrests.

He was being held in the Wood County Jail pending court proceedings that would lead to his return to Pennsylvania.

Miller’s relatives could not be immediately located, nor could Waller’s family.”



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