PHOENIX (AP) — Before his arrest this week in the early 1990s killings of two women in Phoenix, Bryan Patrick Miller eluded possible capture nearly 13 years ago in Washington state.
Melissa Ruiz-Ramirez was out walking in Everett, Washington, on May 23, 2002, when she accepted a ride from a man she recognized from a friend’s apartment complex. In the car, they talked about how some of the trails and pathways near that complex were dangerous. The man then took her to his work and stabbed her in the back with a 12-inch serrated knife.
Miller was arrested in the attack but acquitted after saying the woman tried to rob him. He moved back to Arizona shortly afterward and quietly resumed his life before being arrested this week.
The encounter shows how Miller, 42, avoided capture over the years. In high school, he randomly stabbed a woman at a Phoenix mall but only served time until age 18, Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said. The Washington state case didn’t require him to submit a DNA sample because he was exonerated.
DNA evidence recently collected by undercover officers now ties the divorced father to the slayings of Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas, police said.
Brosso, 22, was killed in November 1992, and Bernas, 17, died in September 1993. Both disappeared while bicycling near the Arizona Canal. Brosso’s decapitated body was found near an apartment complex, while Bernas’ body was discovered about 1½ miles away floating in the water.
Investigators were combing through Miller’s Phoenix home Thursday and will likely be there for several days. So far, there is no evidence that Miller knew either victim, Crump said. A bike was found in a shed in Miller’s backyard, but Crump said it wasn’t immediately clear if it belonged to either victim.
Miller is being held on two counts of first-degree murder and kidnapping and one count of sexual assault. He appeared in court Wednesday without an attorney. According to police, he denied any involvement in the killings during a police interview. He acknowledged living in the vicinity at the time of the murders and that he rode his bike on the bike paths.
Jason Brosius, who worked with Miller at the time of his assault arrest in Washington, said he never saw Miller exhibit any strange behavior.
“He was kind of a quiet person, but he wasn’t anymore quiet than anybody else,” said Brosius, who still works at the same company, a provider of truck accessories. “He didn’t show any crazy, weird flags to me. He seemed pretty square.”
Brosius recalled how Miller moved right after his acquittal without saying much to anyone.
“He came back here, collected his personal stuff and that was the last anybody saw of him,” Brosius said. “He said he was going back to Arizona, and that was it.”
Associated Press writer Doug Esser in Seattle contributed to this report.