Rapid City police solve 50-year-old cold case

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KBHB) – Rapid City police say they have closed a more than 50-year-old cold case thanks to some technology.

At a press conference today, police say DNA Genealogy has solved the murder of Gwen Miller – who was found strangled in her home in February 1968. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.

Authorities investigated her death extensively in the days after her death and although there were suspects, there was no sufficient evidence to arrest one. One of the suspects was a pharmacist who Miller worked for and had feelings for her. However, after thousands of hours of work, no suspect was ever arrested.

Detective Wayne Keefe, who has been working this case for several years, says forensic genealogy came into play.

That genealogist, Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, took what authorities gave her, and found a handful of matches to narrow down a list of possible suspects.

With the results, Keefe says they tracked down a family with a last name of Field that matched the genetics given to him by Dr. Fitzpatrick.

After making some connections, Keefe says they came up with a suspect – Eugene Field. Keefe says he made several connections to him and Gwen.

Keefe interviewed Eugene’s only brother, and found his sibling had a violent history with previous wives. After obtaining permission to obtain a DNA sample from the brother, Keefe says the profile resulted in what he suspected – Eugene Field murdered Gwen Miller.

However, Eugene Field died in June of 2009 due to a cancerous tumor that eventually cut off his air supply.

With the case now considered closed, surviving family members of Gwen Miller are pleased with the work that has been done to solve their loved one’s murder.

Kay Miller Temple was on hand at today’s press conference and spoke about a day they have waited for for a long time.

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris thanked everyone who have worked on the case so diligently to help break the case.

He says “although there is a slight celebratory mood as we solve this case, our hearts are heavy for the horrific victimization that occurred in Rapid City in 1968.”