EVERETT, Wash. (KCPQ/CNN) - A murder suspect is back at home after posting a $1-million bond, something a law enforcement official says he’s never seen before.
DNA evidence helped investigators in Snohomish County crack a 1972 cold case involving a woman who was sexually assaulted and then shot in the head.
That evidence led investigators to Terrence Miller, now 78-years-old, using forensic genealogy.
According to detectives, Jody Loomis, 20, left her home to head to the stables 47 years ago. It was something they said Loomis did all the time, but it was the first time she had ever ridden her bike there alone. They said it was still daylight when then 30-year-old Miller raped and killed her.
“This was such an innocent victim. She was just riding her bicycle down the road when she ended up being raped and murdered, and it’s the oldest case we have in Snohomish County where we have DNA evidence,” said Detective Jim Scharf with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives used the DNA to build a family tree, and it led them to Miller, a man who by all accounts was a stranger to Loomis.
“She had her whole life ahead of her, and it was just taken away, just taken away, and we live with that every day,” said Jana Smith, Loomis’ sister.
For detectives and Loomis’ loved ones, an arrest for her murder was a monumental moment. They said it felt like a time when justice finally seemed possible, but a couple months after Miller was arrested, those close to the case got some startling news.
“How could this be? How could this happen? Do you hear of this?” Smith said. “I mean we’ve never heard of this happening before. That he could be out - go home to his house, go home to his wife.”
“It was pretty hard to believe that somebody could bail out on $1-million bail, and it’s the only case that I can think of in my 42 years in law enforcement where somebody bailed out on a first-degree murder charge,” Scharf said.
“I mean murder - murder, and he’s at home, and we have the DNA,” Smith said.
When charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors asked the judge to set bail at $1 million: A standard number for murder cases. What’s not standard is a defendant being able to come up with the funds to make bond.
According to court documents, Miller used a bail company that told KCPQ defendants have to pay them 10 percent of the bond, and that’s money the defendant will never get back. In this case, Miller would have paid a non-refundable $100,000 in order to get the comforts of home while waiting to stand trial.
“It concerns me that he’s out there and he can move around in the community if he wants to. He is on electronic home monitoring, but you always wonder how accurately that system works,” Scharf said.
In addition to having to wear an ankle monitor, Miller is under other restrictions. He can only leave the house for certain reasons such as court, grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments, but that’s little consolation for Loomis’ family.
“I don’t think that this is right,” Smith said. “The family, we’re devastated. There’s a lot of risk by letting someone bail out, in a murder case.”
Miller declined to speak to KCPQ on camera about his charges and the large sum of money he paid to go home. He did say that he paid the $100,000 in full.