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
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 31½
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
"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
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
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,
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
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 Observer.com
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
An hour later, Kontz appeared before a magistrate.
Told she would be held without bail, she was escorted back to the
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
In the four years since her husband died, Ann
Miller moved to Wilmington and married a Christian rock musician, Paul
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
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
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
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.
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
Gammon fought to keep his conversations with
Willard confidential, citing a client's need to talk freely with a
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
By Len Besthoff - Wral.com
December 3, 2001
A year to the day after his death,
a Raleigh church group held a vigil Sunday for murdered UNC researcher
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
"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
By Len Besthoff - Wral.com
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
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
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
"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.