Phoenix Police Arrest Suspect in Cold Case Killings of Two Women

Phoenix police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for killing two young women more than 20 years ago.

The remains of 22-year-old Angela Brosso and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas were found in and around the Arizona Canal in 1992 and 1993, and police just this week arrested 42-year-old Bryan Patrick Miller in the killings.

Phoenix PD isn't releasing much information on what led investigators to Miller, but the definitive link is DNA, which Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump tells New Times an undercover officer obtained "during a ruse" and that the sample was linked to the crimes just last week.

The Phoenix Police Department wasn't utilizing DNA crime testing in the early '90s, so it wasn't until 1999, when police were building their DNA database, that a sample was recovered from the evidence previously collected in the case.

However, Miller's DNA was not in any database, so there was no match. The DNA testing did, however, definitively link the murders of Brosso and Bernas.

Both women had gone on bike rides near the canal, and neither returned. According to the New Times archives, Brosso's body was found in a field in November 1992, and her had was found floating in the canal more than a week later. According to the New Times report from the time, "Unspeakable things were done to the rest of her body." Court documents indicate stabbing was the least of it.

Months later, in September 1993, Bernas' body was found in the canal with stab wounds.

Again, police have been quiet about how exactly Miller got on investigators' radar after the case was reopened again.

Crump told reporters that criminal behavior experts brought in to consult on the case had found similarities between these cases and a stabbing near the Paradise Valley Mall in 1989. Miller, then a juvenile, was convicted of aggravated assault for that stabbing, although those records are sealed.

This 1989 stabbing appears to be at least one part of what made police take a look at Miller in the case, and they found enough evidence to arrest Miller for the murders.

Miller was booked into jail yesterday on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of sexual assault. Miller was denied bail.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley