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Ann Miller KONTZ





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 2, 2000
Date of arrest: September 27, 2004
Date of birth: 1970
Victim profile: Eric D. Miller, 30 (her husband)
Method of murder: Poisoning (arsenic)
Location: Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to between 25 years and 31 1/2 years in prison (the maximum allowed for a person with no prior convictions) on November 8, 2005
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2

Ann Miller Kontz pleaded guilty Nov. 8, 2005, to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Dec. 2, 2000, arsenic poisoning death of her then-husband Eric Miller, a pediatric AIDS researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Raleigh police spent nearly four years pursuing Kontz, a former chemist and researcher at GlaxoSmithKline, before she was indicted on first-degree murder in September 2004


Miller Poisoning Case Dramatically Changed Lives

November 13, 2005

For nearly five years, their lives were held together by a single question: Who killed Eric Miller?

A father waited to learn who fatally poisoned his son with arsenic. A police lieutenant toiled with a complicated case that at times appeared stuck, with no progress made for months at a time. A widow lived silently in the shadow of suspicion, refusing to talk as she raised the couple's young daughter, left town and remarried.

The question hung over nearly every moment of every day, the longing for an answer intensifying last year after prosecutors charged the widow -- Ann Miller Kontz -- with murder.

When that answer came, it came quick: Kontz stood in open court and surprised many by admitting she conspired with her lover to poison her husband. And suddenly, lives tied together by tragedy were freed by truth, each dramatically changed by the murder of Eric Miller.

"I don't think anybody is happy about any of this," said Chris Morgan, who led the police investigation and remained involved in the case after his retirement. "But I think there's some sense of resolution."

The 35-year-old Kontz will spend the next 25 to 31 years in prison for poisoning Miller, a 30-year-old pediatric AIDS researcher at the University of North Carolina. He died in December 2000 after ingesting poisoned food and drink served up by his wife and her lover, Derril Willard, who worked with Kontz at drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. Willard committed suicide about a month after Miller's death.

Kontz expressed remorse in a statement read by defense attorney Joseph B. Cheshire V at the hearing Monday when she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

"I think Ann has always felt that she could never really be free if she did not accept responsibility and face the truth," said her other attorney, Wade Smith. "And I think she wanted to do that."

But Verus Miller, Eric's father, called her statement "empty words" that offered no reason why she committed the crime.

Now, Miller and his wife Doris, who live in Cambridge City, Ind., are focused on his granddaughter, Clare. She turns 6 in January and is being cared for by Kontz's sister in Wilmington, where Kontz eventually moved and remarried. He said it is too soon to talk about what comes next for her.

"The motivating factor in this was that it removed (Kontz) from Clare's life, guaranteed for 25 years," Miller said. "And we felt that was an important enough reason to agree to the plea. This way, she will not be able to influence or harm Clare."

The Millers have remained close to Morgan, a determined investigator who often wore fedora hats straight out of old detective movies. He delayed retirement for more than a year to keep working on the case, and remained involved after he left the force in late 2004.

Miller's death stayed with him like few others. He saw Eric Miller's name each day on the list of unsolved slayings posted on a wall at the Raleigh Police Department; a picture of a smiling Eric, Ann and infant Clare hangs on his bulletin board at home. He told Miller's parents he would not leave the case until it was "going where it needed to be," and even faced pressure from his mother to solve the case.

"She would say, 'Those poor Miller folks. What can you do for them?'" Morgan said of his late mother. "I don't think my mama would have let me put it down."

Years ago, his wife made him stop buying a new hat for each tough homicide case he solved -- he was buying too many. But Morgan made an exception to celebrate Kontz's arrest, adding a Panama straw hat to his collection. An unburdened retirement awaits.

For Rick Gammon, Kontz's plea brought relief that he wouldn't have to testify at a trial. Gammon, an attorney who spoke with Willard several times before his suicide, was ultimately forced to reveal details of those conversations to authorities despite his claims of attorney-client privilege.

Gammon lost his fight before the state Supreme Court, eventually turning over information that implicated Kontz and led to her indictment on a first-degree murder charge a few months later. Gammon said his client learned from Kontz that she had injected the unknown contents of a syringe into her husband's IV bag while he was hospitalized.

Now Gammon -- who has worked in private practice for about 25 years -- said he cautions clients there's always the chance that he could be compelled to talk about their conversations. He called the fight "stressful," but said it was the right decision to try to keep the information private, even though it proved to be the key to the case.

He said authorities and other attorneys reacted positively to his fight, and there are apparently no bad feelings between Gammon and the Miller family. Verus Miller has long said he did not fault Gammon for protecting the information, and Gammon said the Miller family was gracious during a past courthouse encounter.

"I felt as if they understood that I wasn't trying to keep information away from solving their son's murder," Gammon said. "I've had a lot of people, whether they agreed or disagreed, say they thought I handled it properly. And that was a good feeling."

The case wore heavily on others as well. Willard left behind a wife and young daughter, while defense attorneys Smith and Cheshire remained quiet as years of suspicion mounted against their client. Prosecutor Rebecca Holt worked on the case exclusively for a year to prepare for a January trial, which Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby admitted would have been a "fascinating" case to try.

But closing the case -- and providing the final answer to the lingering question -- was most important.

"It's been a long, hard road," he said. "I'm satisfied that we've done the right thing, and we have to move on."


Ann Miller Kontz gets 25 years in poisoning death

November 8, 2005

RALEIGH -- After nearly five years of denials, Ann Miller Kontz pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the poisoning death of her first husband, Eric Miller. She was sentenced to between 25 years and 31 1/2 years in prison -- the maximum allowed for a person with no prior convictions.

She acknowledged that for two weeks in November 2000, she conspired with co-worker Derril Willard to poison Miller.

Kontz, 35, was charged with first-degree murder in September 2004, nearly four years after the death of Eric Miller, 30, a pediatric AIDS researcher and the father of her child.

For Miller's family, this was it. After almost five years, the moment they'd been waiting for: an admission of guilt from the "evil" woman who they said inflicted a painful death on a man who loved her.

Kontz entered a Wake County courtroom Monday in a cream turtleneck, cropped black blazer and gray skirt. Her hair, short and wispy in earlier court appearances, has grown into a thick, shoulder-length blond bob. Some strands covered her face as she sat between her lawyers, Joseph B. Cheshire V and Wade Smith.

She turned to her family and smiled before she sat to face Wake Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens.

Within minutes, Eric Miller's family heard her admit to killing him.

"Ms. Kontz, did you with malice unlawfully and intentionally participate in causing the death of Eric Miller?" Stephens asked.

"Yes," she said.

Verus Miller, Eric's father, looked past his wife into the eyes of his youngest daughter, Leeann Magee.

He nodded and said, "Yes."

Asks God for forgiveness

Eric Miller and Ann Brier met at Indiana's Purdue University. They married in 1993 and moved to Raleigh. He worked as a postdoctoral research scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; she was a research scientist in Research Triangle Park.

On Monday, Ann Miller Kontz never lifted her head to face her former in-laws. She expressed her remorse through a statement read by Cheshire but did not offer a motive.

"For reasons I do not now understand, I permitted myself to knowingly participate with Derril Willard in events which cost my husband his life," she wrote. "I will struggle for the rest of my life with how this could have happened. ... I have asked God to forgive me, and I hope that God will also help those others whom I have hurt to find it in their hearts one day to forgive me as well."

That wasn't enough for Miller's family. The apology didn't come from her own mouth.

>From the prosecutors' table, Miller's family spoke of him as a loving man and an accomplished scientist.

"Ann! You murdered my son," Doris Miller of Indiana said, trembling as she spoke about her only son. "I have a hole in my heart and a pain in my chest every day."

Verus Miller flashed some of his favorite pictures of his son. As he did, Ann Miller spoke to Smith, her lawyer.

"Wonder what Ann's favorite picture is of Eric? I've got an image in my mind .... Eric lying in a hospital bed dead."

Eric's oldest sister, Pamela Baltzell of Kentucky, spoke loudly and then broke into a rant of frustration.

"Ann! Why don't you look at me? Why can't you look at me?"

Kontz didn't look up.

"Why, Ann? Why did you cruelly murder my brother Eric?" Baltzell continued. "The only explanation I can find is the fact that there is pure evil in this world. The only thing Ann Brier Miller Kontz is sorry about is that she was caught."

Kontz audibly sobbed as her former sister-in-law, Leeann Magee of Pennsylvania, spoke about Kontz's and Eric Miller's daughter, 5-year-old Clare, who lives with one of Kontz's sisters.

"I don't believe that you, Ann, truly love your daughter. How could you? You have taken away one of the most precious gifts that she will ever have: her father," said Magee, holding her stomach with her fist. "I will never understand, Ann, why you just didn't divorce him. ... You will get your just punishment in death with eternity in hell."

After they finished, Kontz turned around and flashed a smile at her second husband, Paul Martin Kontz.

A complicated case

The plea was a compromise in a complicated case, Stephens said.

Prosecutors and the Miller family avoid the possibility that appeals could free Kontz. Kontz gets credit for the year she spent behind bars awaiting a first-degree murder trial in which she could have faced life in prison.

After the plea, District Attorney Colon Willoughby called one witness: fedora-wearing, tobacco-chewing Chris Morgan.

Morgan, a retired Raleigh police lieutenant who investigated Miller's death, laid out the prosecution's case.

He said Kontz and Derril Willard were co-workers having an affair who had access to arsenic at work.

During a bowling outing in Raleigh, Miller fell ill after drinking beer that Willard bought and poured.

Two weeks later, Miller made a final trip to the hospital after his parents left him with his wife to have dinner.

Willard, who killed himself in 2001, told his lawyer that Kontz said she was visiting her husband in a hospital, "took a syringe from her purse and injected the contents" into Miller's intravenous line, according to testimony in a December 2004 court hearing.

The statements were revealed after a legal battle that went twice to the N.C. Supreme Court. Prosecutors persuaded the courts to order Willard's lawyer, Richard Gammon, to reveal what Willard had told him.

In November 2003, Ann Miller married Paul Martin Kontz, a Christian rock guitarist she met in Wilmington, where she moved with her daughter. For the past year, she has been at N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.

On Monday, Kontz's relatives left the courtroom and walked quietly down a stairwell. But Eric Miller's parents and sisters spent an hour with reporters.

Verus Miller likened Ann Miller Kontz to the California man convicted a year ago of killing his wife and their unborn child. "I feel like she's a narcissistic psychopath in the mold of Scott Peterson," he said.


'Evil murder' details toll from the stand

'Evil murder' details toll from the stand - Years of police work end with plea deal

By Jennifer Brevorka - News

November 7, 2005

RALEIGH -- Chris Morgan watched a five-year odyssey end unexpectedly in a packed courtroom Monday. Morgan, a former Raleigh police lieutenant, took the stand to lay out evidence that tied Ann Miller Kontz to the 2000 slaying of her husband, Eric Miller.

But the case had already been decided. Kontz had just pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. She received a sentence of 25 years to 31 1/2 years in prison.

"I really never thought we'd end up where we are today," said Morgan, who, starting in 2001, led the department's homicide unit.

Morgan once said the case fit the category of "evil murders." And the bond he and other investigators formed with Miller's family helped them stay on the case for five years.

In court Monday, Morgan's 6-foot-3-inch frame filled the witness stand, and his baritone voice boomed across the room, making a microphone unnecessary. He glanced at notes while answering a prosecutor's questions as the state, after the plea, laid out its case.

A few yards away, four investigators and a second retired officer who had worked on the case listened to Morgan present their evidence.

After Doris Miller told the court about her son, one investigator hugged her. Others gathered around the Millers after the hearing ended.

"Clearly you see the size of him," Verus Miller, Eric Miller's father, said of Morgan. "He has a heart just as big.

"Your police department went above and beyond the call of duty," Verus Miller added. "The citizens of Wake County should be proud."

On the stand, Morgan outlined some new details. He disclosed how investigators conducted interviews and studied e-mail messages and phone records, along with forensic evidence.

From these sources, police learned how Kontz, along with Derril Willard, her co-worker and lover, had conspired to poison Miller with arsenic.

Kontz and Willard had traveled to Chicago on Nov. 10, 2000, Morgan said. At the Ritz-Carlton, the lovers registered as Mr. and Mrs. Derril Willard and ordered room service several times over the next two days. Kontz told her family the trip was for work; Willard told his wife he was going to meet old friends.

Three days after the pair returned to Raleigh, Miller and Willard went bowling with several of Willard's co-workers. Miller drank a beer that Willard bought and poured, Morgan said. Less than an hour later, Miller became violently ill, vomiting in a trash can.

Miller later was hospitalized and, a few weeks later, after a second trip to the emergency room, he died.

Investigators also learned that Kontz had a second lover -- a research scientist in California with whom she had flirted since 1997.

Morgan said that as early as February he realized the case might not go to trial.

The biggest clue, he said, came when he reinterviewed witnesses who told him they had not been contacted by investigators for the defense -- unusual for a high-profile murder case.

By midsummer, prosecutors told Morgan his hunch might come true. A few months later, lawyers brokered a deal.

Morgan said he was glad the plea was worked out. He said he had concerns about Kontz's "manipulative nature" and the effect it could have on jurors.

"She talked Derril Willard into trying to kill her husband," Morgan said.


Statement: Miller Kontz Injected Substance Into Eric Miller's IV

December 10, 2004

A judge in the case of a woman accused of murdering her husband with arsenic set her bond at $3 million after key statements were released during the bond hearing Friday that prosecutors say indicate the woman injected her husband's IV with a liquid.

In addition to the $3 million secured bond, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said Ann Miller Kontz must reside in Wake or New Hanover County while awaiting trial for the murder of her husband, Eric Miller. Miller Kontz is charged with killing Eric Miller by poisoning him.

Stephens' decision came after he said he needed time to decide what to do after "unexpected information" was released in court by the prosecution.

The information was potentially damaging testimony from a man who police say was having an affair with the defendant.

The man, Derril Willard, later killed himself. Before doing so, he told his attorney, Rick Gammon, about Ann Miller Kontz, telling him that she injected Eric Miller with a substance in his IV line during a hospital visit.

A letter from the attorney was read by the prosecution to the judge. Gammon was compelled to tell prosecutors what Willard had told him about Miller's death.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Becky Holt read paragraph 12, which said, "Mrs. Miller was crying and that she told (Willard) she had been to the hospital where Mr. Miller had been admitted. She stated to Mr. Willard that she was by herself in the room with Mr. Miller for a period of time. She then told Mr. Willard that she took a syringe and a needle from her purse and injected the contents of the syringe into Mr. Miller's IV. He then stated that he asked Mrs. Miller why she had done this and she replied, 'I don't know.'"

When Willard was asked why he thought Miller Kontz injected the substance in the IV, he said that he thought that she wanted to end her husband's suffering.

Willard's suicide note was also read in the courtroom Friday. Willard denied any role in Eric Miller's death.

"Frankly today has brought some unexpected information," Stephens said, before retiring to his chambers to decide the bond amount. "I need to contemplate it. I will take a few minutes and do that."

During the hearing Friday, several defense witnesses testified to Miller Kontz's stability and their belief that she would likely not flee if given bond.

"I think her love for God and Paul and Clare, that she would never hurt them," said Dan Brier, Miller Kontz's father. "She would not be a threat to herself or anyone in any way whatsoever."

For the Miller family the new and graphic information released Friday was hard to hear. They were visibly stunned to hear newly released memo.

"We were thinking of all our son went through, all the suffering," said Doris Miller. "The painful death he had. We were also thinking of our great loss."

Although the judge allowed the documents in Friday's hearing, it is unclear if the statement from Willard's lawyer will be admissible at trial

"I think the evidence is admissible," said Colon Willoughby, Wake County district attorney. "I think it's compelling, I think it's the best indication of an acknowledgement of her admission of guilt."

The defense claims that the statement is false.

"If it's not truthful, which we believe we can show that it's not on it's face, and he had every reason not to be truthful, then it's quite obvious Ann Miller is not guilty of this offense," said Joe Cheshire, defense attorney.

To make bond, Miller Kontz would need to either come up with $3 million worth of property or pay a bail bonds company at least $450,000.


Miller's widow, Ann Miller Kontz, charged

By Andrea  Weigl and Oren Dorell -

September 28, 2004

RALEIGH -- A frightened-looking Ann Miller Kontz was placed in handcuffs Monday in the lobby of the Wake County jail after being charged with first-degree murder in the long-unsolved arsenic poisoning death of her first husband.

Kontz, 34, will be held without bail until a hearing can be held to determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to seek the death penalty. Her arrest punctuates a nearly four-year investigation into the Dec. 2, 2000, death of Eric D. Miller, a Raleigh AIDS researcher.

With tears in her eyes, Kontz said nothing as she was surrounded by news photographers on her way into the Wake County Public Safety Center. Kontz was flanked by her attorneys, Wade Smith and Joseph B. Cheshire V. The procession was nearly silent approaching the building.

Just inside the lobby, Raleigh detectives stopped her, handcuffed her and led her back outside to an unmarked car waiting across Salisbury Street. Her hands were clenched behind her back and her expression was wide-eyed and flushed. When Cheshire signaled to her "Are you OK?" she nodded, holding back tears.

A Wake County grand jury returned the indictment Monday afternoon, but neither police nor prosecutors disclosed any new evidence in the case that had led to the jury's action. It came, however, four months to the day after prosecutors obtained a statement that they said implicated a suspect in Miller's death.

Retired Raleigh Police Lt. Chris Morgan, one of the lead investigators, testified Monday before the grand jury and later watched the arrest of Kontz.

Morgan said the long investigation caused a lot of pain to Miller's family.

"I mean it's one thing if your son or your daughter or whoever is murdered by a stranger, but we know and we've said from the beginning a stranger couldn't have done this," said Morgan, who had delayed his retirement to see this investigation through. "Most people don't get served food -- and what you give people arsenic with -- by strangers."

Afterward, Cheshire said, "We're very sad for Ann. Wade and I intend to do everything that we can to help her prove her innocence."

An hour later, Kontz appeared before a magistrate. Told she would be held without bail, she was escorted back to the jail.

Mysterious illness

Miller, 30, died after suffering for two weeks with a mysterious illness that stumped doctors until arsenic was discovered in his system shortly before he died.

"The police department has been involved in a long, careful investigation. Now we can move forward in the courts," said Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby.

Willoughby would not say whether he will seek the death penalty against Kontz.

News of the indictment brought some relief to Miller's friends and family in his hometown, Cambridge City, Ind.

"To those of us who hold Eric Miller and his family close to our hearts, the news of Ann's indictment was such welcome news, and, at least, progresses one step toward solving this horrendous injustice," wrote a family friend, Phoebe Jordan, in an e-mail to The News & Observer after seeing the story of Kontz's indictment.

In the four years since her husband died, Ann Miller moved to Wilmington and married a Christian rock musician, Paul Martin Kontz.

The tale of Miller's death and the suspected motives behind it could be material for a made-for-TV movie.

The Millers met in a biology class at Purdue University. Both were accepted into graduate programs at N.C. State University, relocated to the Triangle and married in 1993. Eric was a postdoctoral fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, while Ann worked at GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park.

By 2000, the young couple owned their own home, had two cars and a boat, and had a baby girl. They even organized retreats for engaged couples at their church.

However, their marital bliss might have been a mirage.

In search warrants and affidavits, investigators said Kontz was having an affair with a co-worker, Derril H. Willard Jr., 37, who lived with his wife and daughter in North Raleigh. Investigators said the two had access to an arsenic compound in their laboratory.

On Nov. 15, 2000, Eric Miller, Willard and two of Willard's co-workers went bowling at the AMF Pleasant Valley Lanes off Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Miller fell ill with flulike symptoms about an hour after drinking a beer that he complained was bitter; it had been bought and poured for him by Willard, investigators say.

Miller ended up in the hospital that night and stayed for a week, investigators said. He was so weak after he was released from the hospital that he had to use a cane to walk, according to neighbors. Doctors failed to diagnose the poisoning and thought their patient was suffering from some mysterious virus.

On Nov. 30, Eric Miller again became violently ill after eating a meal prepared by his wife, investigators say. This time, doctors detected high levels of arsenic in his system.

Untimely death

Police interviewed Miller at the hospital, but he had no idea how he had come in contact with the poison. He died on Dec. 2, 2000.

Phone records show that in the fall of 2000, Ann Miller and Derril Willard called each other almost 110 times. The calls increased in frequency before and after the times when investigators suspect Eric Miller received doses of arsenic. One 24-minute call came less than two hours before Miller died.

Willard committed suicide more than a month after Miller died. In a note addressed to his wife, Yvette, he denied any involvement in Miller's death. However, before shooting himself with a .357-caliber Magnum revolver, Willard sought the legal advice of Raleigh lawyer Richard T. Gammon.

Willoughby, the district attorney, asked a judge to order Gammon to disclose what Willard had told him about Miller's death.

Gammon fought to keep his conversations with Willard confidential, citing a client's need to talk freely with a lawyer.

But the state's highest court ordered Gammon to reveal Willard's statements, which reportedly implicated a third party in the death -- someone other than Willard himself. On May 27, Gammon turned over the information, which has yet to be made public.

Asked about the significance of Gammon's information in the broader scope of the investigation, Willoughby said Monday, "It's one piece of evidence along with a lot of other pieces of evidence that brought us to this stage."

It is unclear whether a jury will ever hear what Willard told Gammon.

Willoughby said Monday for the first time that he believes it is admissible evidence. In the past, other lawyers have said such an attempt by prosecutors would violate a defendant's right to confront his accuser, since Willard is no longer alive.


One Year Later, No Answers In Death Of UNC Researcher

By Len Besthoff -

December 3, 2001

A year to the day after his death, a Raleigh church group held a vigil Sunday for murdered UNC researcher Eric Miller.

Miller, who worked at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, died last year from arsenic poisoning. His sister came all the way from Kentucky to participate in the vigil. Participants hope it will help keep the unsolved case in the public eye.

"Our parents now carry a heavy burden, a deeply saddened heart. And the reality that they will never see their son again is often too much to bear," said Pam Baltzell, Miller's sister.

Investigators found an arsenic compound in the labs of his wife, Ann Miller, and her supervisor, Derril Willard, at Glaxo Smith Kline. Police say Miller gave them one interview, but has not talked with them since.

Willard committed suicide after warrants revealed he had a relationship with Miller.


More Details Emerge About Widow Of Poisoned Raleigh Researcher

By Len Besthoff -

January 31, 2001

Ann Miller is not a suspect in the arsenic poisoning of her husband, but police have not ruled her out. A paper trail and several people are shedding light on who she is.

Ann Miller was born in Batavia, N.Y. in 1970. After graduating high school in Pennsylvania, she met her husband, Eric, at Purdue University. Eric is from Cambridge City, Indiana. They got married at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church before moving to Raleigh in 1992.

The Millers were both graduate students in the biochemistry department at N.C. State. That is where graduate student Bernie Brown met them.

"They were always holding hands and happy. They came in the morning together, they left together. You know, they just seemed to be the perfect couple," she says. "Ann was, I think, the more dominant of the two in the relationship. She liked to call the shots."

The case started in December when Eric Miller was found dead of arsenic poisoning. An arsenic compound was found in his wife's lab at GlaxoSmithKline.

Last week, Ann's co-worker, Darril Willard, shot and killed himself. Police say they had some sort of relationship. Willard left a suicide note, claiming that he had nothing to do with Eric Miller's death.

Brown says Eric Miller's poisoning has shocked former classmates at N.C. State as well as neighbors who knew the Millers when they lived in Holly Springs, and later, in west Raleigh.

Neighbors say since Miller's death, Ann has stayed mostly with her parents in northern Wake County, and she did try going back to work at GlaxoSmithKline.

Lynette Mayo says Miller came to her house a few weeks ago to thank her for taking care of a few things at her west Raleigh home.

"I saw her and she saw me, and she just started crying and I started crying," she says.

After Eric's death, neighbors say she spent Christmas with his family in his hometown of Cambridge City, Indiana. Neighbors also say Eric's parents came to Raleigh for their granddaughter's first birthday.


Raleigh Police Suspect Arsenic Poisoning Responsible For Death Of Doctor

December 3, 2000

Investigators suspect Eric Miller, a scientist at UNC's Lineberger Cancer Center, may have died in a rare case of arsenic poisoning.

Raleigh police searched his home at 800 Shady Maple Court over the weekend looking for clues into the death. Miller died at Rex Hospital early Saturday morning. Investigators suspect arsenic poisoning was the cause.

Dr. Woodhall Stopford, a leading toxicologist at Duke University, says arsenic poisoning is rare.

At most, I can think of two cases in 30 odd years as a clinician," he says.

Arsenic used to be found in some pesticides and herbicides. It can still be found in rat poison.

"In small amounts, you wouldn't know you were being poisoned, you're chronically ill," Stopford says. "Often you have symptoms of a cold, sneezing, swelling around your eyelids. It lingers on and on and on. You just don't get better."

After a period of time, arsenic can destroy the body's vital organs and cause death.

"As you get at higher and higher levels, it acts as a poison. It poisons all tissues in the body," he says.

Dr. Stopford says there have been instances where arsenic has contaminated someone's water supply, but this is rare in the United States. As a result, arsenic poisoning is more often deliberate than accidental.



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