Mineola church deacon arrested, connected to 1981 homicide
POSTED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 4:14pm
UPDATED: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 10:54am
Mineola, Texas (KETK) — The U.S. Marshals Service arrested a Pennsylvania fugitive in East Texas who was wanted for more than 30 years on a 1981 murder charge.
U.S. Marshals arrested Joseph Lewis Miller Monday in Mineola, Texas, where he was living under an alias, said Marshal Martin J. Pane . Miller, 78, previously of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is charged with the Jan. 15, 1981, fatal shooting of Thomas Waller. The murder occurred in a parking lot adjacent to the Times Hotel at the corner of 14th and Regina Streets in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.
Based upon an investigation conducted by the Harrisburg Police, an arrest warrant was signed on Feb. 12, 1981, by Judge William W. Lipsitt. Miller was charged with four felonies: murder, crimes committed with a firearm, former convict not to own or possess a firearm and firearms not to be carried without a license.
“The murder occurred more than three decades ago, and while this case presented us with a significant challenge it also exemplifies the dedication, thoroughness and diligence the fugitive task force has toward cold cases. I am proud of the hard work they displayed,” U.S. Marshal Martin J. Pane said. “While not an easy case, justice has prevailed.”
Miller is known to have a long violent history. In June 1959, Miller was arrested by the Harrisburg Police for the slaying of John H. Lumpkins. Miller used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot John and Donna Lumpkins on June 12, 1959. Lumpkins died from his wounds July 4, 1959. Miller pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on Jan. 22, 1960.
Marshal Pane stated, “Throughout the late 1960s, Miller applied to have his life sentence commuted. Unfortunately, in 1971, Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer commuted Miller’s sentence from life to a minimum sentence of 11 years, 6 months and 10 days, essentially time served. On Feb. 9, 1971, Miller was released from state custody and placed on lifetime state parole. Within 10 years of being on parole, Miller was charged for the murder of Waller and a warrant issued. Since Miller was on lifetime state parole supervision by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole at the time of the 1981 murder, a state parole violation warrant was also issued.”
The U.S. Marshals Service in the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently adopted these two arrest warrants as part of its fugitive task force. The USMS gave the 33-year-old fugitive case the highest priority. A tremendous amount of time was dedicated to thoroughly reviewing case files from both the Harrisburg Bureau of Police and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.
USMS and task force personnel developed information on a person residing in east Texas who they believed may have been the fugitive. Working with photographs more than three decades old, Marshals believed the man named Roy Eugene Eubanks was indeed Joseph Lewis Miller.
The individual named Roy Eubanks was found living in Mineola, Texas. During the early morning hours of April 21, U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of Texas and members of their Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force from Tyler, Texas, placed a house in the 600 block of South Pacific Street in Mineola under surveillance. The individual, who it was believed was the fugitive Joseph Miller, was observed a short time later. U.S. Marshals Service personnel were able to arrest the subject without incident. A firearm was recovered inside the residence.
The individual admitted his true identity as Joseph Lewis Miller. He was married and a deacon in his local church. Officials said he waived his Miranda right and admitted to the crime. Miller is also believed to have married at least one other time.
The suspect's current wife, whom has not been named, was present at some point during his arrest and is aware of Lewis' involvement in the murder, said Marshal Pain. The wife did not appear to have any knowledge of the crime before Monday, said Pain.
Miller, using the alias of Roy Eubanks, was also found to be receiving Social Security disability benefits for more than two decades. He will be held in custody in Wood County, Texas, pending court proceedings concerning his extradition to Pennsylvania. According to PennLive.com, Miller had assumed the social security number and birthdate of a deceased cousin.
Marshal Pane stated, “It is my sincere hope that the victims’ family and the surviving victim can and will rest easier knowing the alleged perpetrator is now in custody.”
Thomas Carter, Chief of Police, Harrisburg Bureau of Police said, “On behalf of the city of Harrisburg, I congratulate the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force who collaborated with the Harrisburg Bureau of Police to locate and arrest this person who has escaped justice for over 30 years. This is a great achievement by both agencies. The victim’s family will finally have justice.”
Michael C. Potteiger, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole said, “Miller’s arrest today is a great example of the perseverance of the Board’s parole agents. We pursue all fugitives from parole, no matter how long it takes. Today’s arrest should send a message – if you are on the run, we will find you. Our job is to hold offenders accountable and to ensure that justice is served by those placed under our supervision.”
Those agencies from the U.S. Marshals Service Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force who participated in Miller’s arrest were the Tyler Police Department and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General.
The concept of all USMS-led fugitive task forces is to seek out and arrest the nation’s most dangerous fugitive offenders.