1968 Murder Solved Through Forensic Testing
The Rapid City Police Department has solved its first cold case using forensic genealogy testing. The 1968 murder of Gwen Miller remained a mystery for years, but new information has brought the family closure.
“Dear Aunt Gwen, it’s been a long time.”
Gwen Miller’s niece shares memories passed down through generations.
On February 29th, 1968, Miller didn’t show up for work at the hospital. Two coworkers went to her house, discovering Miller lying in bed, dead. Police determined the cause to be murder.
“Those folks immediately went to work to try to make sense of your last day.”
Due to technological limitations, the crime wasn’t solved. In 1972, all of the records from the murder were destryoed when a flood tore through Rapid City.
Detective Wayne Keefe of the Rapid City Police Department came out of retirement in 2014 to work on cold cases—including this one.
Keefe conducted new interviews, but his main source for investigating was the physical evidence that survived the flood.
“I began to learn about forensic genealogy and a forensic genealogist that was working in California where she would combine both a DNA profile and her work in DNA together.”
He sent the DNA sample for testing, and narrowed it down to a man with eastern European descent named Field or Fields. Neither of the names had been mentioned in documents or interviews, so Keefe started searching for a connection.
“The only subject at that time that I found lived anywhere close to Gwen Miller was a man by the name of Eugene Carol Field.”
The suspect, who had a history of domestic violence, died in 2009. Through further testing and the process of elimination, Keefe determined Eugene Field to be the murder.
“The family of Gwen Vivian Miller offers you our gratitude and our appreciation and thank you for giving us an answer.”
Gwen Miller’s family wants their situation to provide hope to others affected by cold cases.