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The Journal Gazette

Friday, July 20, 2018 1:00 am

Brother helped care for accused killer, ends ties

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

AUBURN – The brother of John D. Miller, the man charged with the child molesting and murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley in 1988, provided meals and looked after his older brother for years, never realizing Miller's terrible secret.

The relationship between the two brothers, the only surviving family members, is now over.

“He's dead to me,” said Miller's brother, known as JPM, in the affidavit released Sunday by Allen Superior Court. JPM, who lives in Auburn, does not want to be identified or photographed.

His older brother, 59, was “always slow,” JPM said Thursday at his home. Their mother, Patty Miller, who died in 2015, worked constantly during John's childhood to improve his hand-to-eye coordination, having him craft things like potholders for manual dexterity.

“He was always inside,” JPM said during an hour-long interview Thursday, the same day his brother made a court appearance where a not-guilty plea was entered. JPM, however, was out playing sports and involved in regular activities.

When JPM was about 11, his mother and father, who owned Bob Miller Ford in Waterloo where they grew up, divorced. For some reason, Bob Miller was given custody of John, and JPM isn't sure why. Maybe it had something to do with John being in a two-parent family because his father had remarried, he said.

John, who is nearly 3 years older than his younger brother, was bullied and teased in school in Waterloo, one of his brother's classmates told him much later.

Shortly after the parents' divorce, John was sent to the Sol E. Wood Youth Center on Wells Street, although JPM doesn't remember or perhaps never knew the reason why.

From Wood Youth Center, he was transferred to a boys reformatory school in Muncie, where JPM and his mother, with whom he lived, would visit when John was allowed a day away from the school.

In 1978, when John was about 19 years old, his father moved John into the trailer at the Grabill mobile home park because “his new wife said John scared her,” JPM said.

His father, now deceased, also got John a job at Eagle-Picher, a nearby Grabill manufacturing plant, where John worked for 22 years until he was fired in 2000. John had a temper, JPM said, and when a card swipe system was introduced, he ended up breaking it.

“There must have been other incidences, though,” he said.

John, who did not talk much and relied on his mother to make his weekly meals, never told anyone he'd been fired. The Millers only found out after utilities started to get shut off at the trailer on Main Street.

Dealing with John “is like dealing with a 13-year-old,” JPM said.

John's last job was at the Walmart in Kendallville, where JPM estimated he'd been working a dozen years.

“Third shift suited him,” JPM said, because it kept him from having to deal with people. Co-workers complained that he cursed too much.

Dawn Muller, a resident at the Grabill trailer park since 2009, would see John come home and get out of his car wearing a Walmart vest. He was always scowling, she said.

When John turned 55, he received a lump sum of money, JPM said, but it disappeared quickly. JPM said he asked his brother whether he was seeing prostitutes, but didn't receive a clear answer.

Still, detectives were able to match DNA from 30-year-old evidence to Miller by testing DNA from used condoms found in Miller's trash.

JPM often visited the trailer to make sure nothing was broken and noticed that his brother had adult videos. JPM said he didn't judge his brother because he thought it kept him safe. John also liked to watch old TV shows.

When his mother was alive, John would play cards with her and another relative over the weekend. Part of his routine included picking up the Sunday paper at JPM's house, and that continued after their mother's death. Besides reading newspapers, he enjoyed word search, JPM said.

One thing JPM cannot explain is the mileage on his brother's car. Three years ago, John acquired the dark-colored Chevy Malibu that was still parked Thursday in front of his trailer. At the time of purchase, the car had 250 miles on it. Why it now has 70,000 miles when John seemed to mostly drive to the Kendallville Walmart and back to Grabill is puzzling, JPM said.

After their mother died, JPM took over the care of his brother. An older brother had died nearly 20 years before.

Besides providing newspapers daily, JPM handed him food for the week, he said.

The questions he asked him every Sunday never varied: “How's your job? How's your car? How's your trailer?”

Until this past Sunday, when John's neighbor called to say police were at his brother's trailer, the answers were always the same.

After the call, JPM went to his brother's trailer and then followed police to Fort Wayne to give a statement. The shock of the charges against his brother is so new, JPM said he has not been able to eat or sleep. And he doesn't ever expect to forgive him.

“What he did was sick,” he said.

jduffy@jg.net