Arrest made in case of murdered Goshen professor

Nov 9, 2018 by

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After seven years, a suspect has been arrested and charged for the 2011 murder of Goshen (Ind.) College biology professor James Miller.

Elkhart County prosecutor Vicki Becker announced Oct. 30 that Winston Earl Corbett, 23, of Goshen was arrested Oct. 28.

James Miller

James Miller

Corbett, who was 16 years old and attending high school at the time Miller was killed, entered a not-guilty plea Nov. 8 in an Elk­hart County Circuit Court initial hearing. The Goshen News reported he is charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.

In 2011, the Goshen Police Department reported Miller and his wife, Linda, were attacked in their Goshen home in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, 2011, during an attempted burglary.

The South Bend Tribune reported that while Becker declined to offer specific details about how Corbett was identified as a suspect, “the evolution of science” and further tests of crime-scene evidence — even including results received the morning of Oct. 30 — contributed to the arrest.

Becker said Linda Miller was attacked first during the incident over Goshen College’s homecoming weekend. When her husband came to her aid, there was an intense struggle, ending with his death outside their home. News reports at the time indicated their children were not at home at the time, riding a bus home from a Goshen High School marching band event.

“This is big news for us as a family,” Linda Miller wrote Oct. 31 on Facebook. “It has been seven long years of waiting. Pray for us as we go through this difficult time.”

Miller came to Goshen College to teach in 1980. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1975 from Bluffton (Ohio) University. He primarily taught upper-level courses taken by students in nursing, pre-medical and other health-related tracks.

“We are relieved that an arrest has finally been made in this case, and we are grateful for the long and dedicated work of our local law enforcement and others who have brought a possible resolution to the mystery of his violent death,” said Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus in an Oct. 30 statement.

Few details about the investigation are available. Court documents providing the basis for Corbett’s arrest remain sealed because the law enforcement investigation is ongoing and prosecutors have concern that releasing names of witnesses could expose them to risk of harm.

The murder charge carries a sentence of 45-65 years in prison, the attempted murder penalty is 20-40 years.

Corbett’s trial is scheduled for March 18.

Miller’s Goshen College colleague and friend Zenebe Abebe of Indianapolis told the Goshen News he and many others were relieved to hear about movement in the case after so many years.

“He was gentle and a peaceful family man who was never upset about any issue,” said Abebe, who was in the same Sunday school class with Miller for 12 years. “As a scientist, he simply presented his arguments supported by facts and logic and moved on. My thoughts and prayers will be with his family as they have to relive this unfortunate incident.”

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