FOX News reports that a tossed cigarette butt has led to an arrest in a 26-year-old cold case murder. Robert Lee Miller, 54, threw a cigarette butt away in February of 2018. He didn’t know that police were following him and grabbed the butt to get a DNA sample.
Washington state and Idaho authorities had been trying to solve two murder cases for over 20 years and believed they were connected to Miller, but didn’t have the hard evidence necessary to move forward.
The DNA samples from evidence recovered didn’t match with anyone in the databases, but they did match between the cases of the murder of Marilyn Hickey in 1992 and Cheryle Barratt in 1994.
After the DNA was matched to the murders, Miller was arrested in Boise on Wednesday. He was charged with first-degree murder in the Hickey case and has been named a prime suspect in the Barrett case. Miller is expected to be extradited to Washington.
In 1992, Hickey was found in her studio apartment in Washington strangled. She had also been stabbed in the chest with a pair of scissors. Semen was recovered at the scene. She had been seen the night before leaving a tavern with a man described much like Miller.
In 1994, Barratt was found fatally stabbed in her home.
Both cold cases were reopened in 2017.
*Photo credit Ada County Sheriff’s Office