Rapid City Police Department Cold Case Unit solves 1968 homicide
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Fifty-one years after a brutal murder, families connected to a Rapid City cold case finally have closure.
In 1968, 60-year-old Gwen Miller was raped and strangled to death in her Rapid City home. Through many leads and no ends, DNA held the key. Police now know Eugene Carroll Field was the man behind her death.
The Rapid City Police Department held a press conference on Monday afternoon to discuss solving the case.
“For the first time in our dept’s history, we have solved a major case using DNA genealogy,” Rapid City Chief of Police Karl Jegeris tweeted Monday.
Miller was a Rapid City pharmacist. She was found in her bed at her home on Hall Street after the murder.
The newest developments in the case were undertaken by the RCPD’s Cold Case Unit. The unit was stood up in 2014 and consists of a singular, part-time detective. That detective is Wayne Keefe, who was retired.
He began his work in the unit by simply cataloging information about RCPD cold cases. His work shifted to having a primary focus on the Gwen Miller case in 2016. Since then, he interviewed more than 100 people, with 25 possible suspects cleared.
In 2018, Keefe learned of Forensic Genealogist Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, who operates a California-based lab called Identifinders International LLC.
Fitzpatrick was able to use DNA evidence from the original homicide investigation and match it to genealogy databases online — and from that, a name.
“A man by the name of Eugene Carroll Field,” said Keefe.
The RCPD said that probable cause exists to arrest Field for first degree murder, but Field died in 2009 from a cancerous tumor in his throat. The tumor eventually cut off his air supply. He is survived by his only brother.
“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,” said Jegeris in a tweet.
Initial investigations shed light into Gwen Miller’s life and those around her. According Keefe, “Gwen was described as quiet and unassuming and she didn’t share much except with those she was close with”
“We think of you [Gwen] often, and always talk of you when the family gathers,” said Kay Miller, one of Gwen Miller’s family members.
“Anyone who touched this investigation — the family of Gwen Miller offers you our gratitude and our appreciation and thank you for giving us an answer,” she continued.