Zombie Hunter accused of additional attacks
Bryan Patrick Miller faces two murder charges as trial begins today
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Trial begins today, Oct. 3, in the case against Bryan Patrick Miller, known to Phoenix sci-fi fans as The Zombie Hunter. This is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury, and it will be up to the judge whether or not Miller is found guilty of these murders. But police believe Miller is responsible for more attacks than the pair of decades-old that could land him on death row.
DNA left at the scenes of the Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas murders in 1992 and 1993 played a crucial role in leading police to Miller, more than two decades after the crimes were committed. Those killings were known as the Phoenix Canal Murders. But even back then, police believed there were more victims out there. “To think that someone who has killed in that fashion, that there weren’t other crimes related this, is unlikely,” said Sgt. Trent Crump, back in 2015, when Miller was arrested.
The defense has basically conceded that Miller committed these crimes but is arguing he is ‘not guilty by reason of insanity,’ pointing to Miller suffering from autism and dissociative disorders at the time, as well as abuse from his mom. However, the prosecution said he is guilty of murder and sexual assault.
Brosso and Bernas were riding their bicycles along bike paths when they were killed. Both were killed with a knife, and Brosso was beheaded. The precision used in their murders led police to explore the possibility that the killer was a surgeon or a special forces operative. The reality, according to investigators, was even more bizarre.
Miller was a celebrity, of sorts, to Phoenix-area cosplay, sci-fi, and horror convention fans. He was known for driving around in an old police cruiser with the words “Zombie Hunter,” on the trunk and a zombie mannequin in the back seat. Friends say he posed for photos with anyone who asked, including police officers.
Two officers took the stand Monday afternoon as they described where this case started, with the first victim, Angela Brosso. Retired detective Robert Wamsley told the judge he was on a bike patrolling the canals that November day searching for Brosso, who had gone missing the night before.
That was the decapitated body of Brosso, who had been mutilated on the eve of her 22nd birthday. The scene was telling, with items scattered around her.
Det. Mike Meislish took the stand next, an investigator experienced in crime scenes like this and sexual assault investigations. Det. Meislish says he became aware that Brosso had a stab wound to her back. Brosso’s clothes were blood-stained at the scene too, and she was found only with her tennis shoes and socks on.
Det. Meislish said days later, he was on the scene when Brosso’s head was found floating in the canal about a mile and a half away from where her body was found. While most of the day’s testimony surrounded the Brosso crime scene, both detectives were in the same area about a year later when 17-year-old Bernas’ body was found about a mile and a half away from Brosso’s body. Bernas also was riding her bike, and a gruesome similarity, where she was found.
Phoenix police also recommended that prosecutors charge Miller in the murder of Brandy Myers, who disappeared while walking in her Sunnyslope neighborhood in May of 1992. It was six months before Brosso was murdered. Miller lived two blocks from Myers. “Her case is considered solved, but not resolved. We know who killed her. We know every detail. We know why we didn’t get her body back. We know the color of the trash bag,” said Kristin Dennis in an interview with AZ Family Investigates. Dennis is Brandy’s sister.
According to the Myers police report, after Miller was arrested for the Canal Murders, his wife told police that Miller had once told her he murdered a girl who matched Brandy Myers’ description. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office rejected the case, stating there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction, according to the police report. “I don’t understand how one branch of the government which is the Phoenix Police Department they can solve a crime, conclude it, and then there are no official charges,” said Dennis.
The Myers police report also indicates that Miller confessed to his wife about another attack on a teenager in Everett, Washington. Miller and his wife moved to Everett in the mid-1990′s, after the Canal Murders.
In October 2000, someone stabbed Victoria Mikelsen, a freshman in high school, while walking along a bike path before school. “I remember hearing the bang right when I was on the curve,” said Mikelsen, in an interview with AZ Family Investigates at the scene of the attack.
She suffered severe, life-threatening injuries. Local police were unable to identify her attacker. But more than 15 years later, Phoenix police contacted Mikelsen and told her they believed Miller was her assailant. It turns out he lived in the same apartment complex as Mikelsen did at the time of the attack. “I know his face and I just don’t understand why they couldn’t [expletive] find him. And he was right [expletive] here,” said Mikelsen.
When asked if she was certain Miller was her attacker, Mikelsen responded, “Not a single doubt.” Because of the statute of limitations in Washington, Miller will never face charges in the Mikelsen attack, even if police believe it was him.
Maricopa County prosecutors could still charge Miller in the Myers case, but as of now, he is only charged in the Brosso and Bernas murders.
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