Over a seven week period in the (Australian) summer of 1976-77 the
bodies of seven young women (15 - 26 years) were discovered near
Adelaide. Miller and his accomplice, Christopher Worrell (a rapist just
released), who was subsequently killed in a car crash, picked up the
victims, most of whom were hitch-hikers, raped and murdered them.
Miller was found guilty of six of the seven crimes. It appears that all
had been strangled, often using a nylon cord, though there was a
suspicion that the last of the victims had been buried alive.
The Truro Murders
Collecting mushrooms in
bushland near Truro, South Australia on 25 April, 1978 a man made a
tragic discovery. Laying partially in the sand were the scattered
remains of a young woman. It was the first body of many uncovered in the
the scene were definite that the woman had met foul play. As is often
the case in murder, the woman's had been dumped in the bush after the
murder. The woman was identified as teenager Veronica Knight, the case
would remain open as no clues were found with the body to suggest a
suspect at the time.
Later in 1978 another
young woman's body was found near the Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide.
The body was skeletal and identification was difficult but they were
identified as belonging to 20 year old Maria Dickinson, she went missing
eight months earlier. Evidence showed she had been shot through the head.
The following March,
the body of Lina Marciano also 20 was found at a rubbish tip in Adelaide.
She had been abducted, severely bashed and stabbed numerous times.
Police were concerned that the last two murders were connected.
All three women had
been reported missing within a 2 month period.
The police checked for
other missing persons reports, they were interested to find that many
young women had been reported missing from December 1976 onwards.
Including Veronica Knight, the pattern was too frightening to ignore.
Young women had been abducted, the police begun to investigate that the
disappearance of seven women may be the work of a serial killer.
A profile was drawn up:
A local man, sex offender, more than liekly to have been released from
jail just prior to the first abduction and may have returned since the
last one. Police kept investigating the abductions and murders trying
not to raise suspicions of the killer.
On Ester Sunday 1979,
the remains of Sylvia Pittman were discovered near Truro, a mere two
kilometres from the site where Veronica Knight had been found a year
earlier. Sylvia was on the list of missing girls. Soon the media got
wind of the case and the story was splashed across the country.
Newspapers offered rewards of $10,000 to catch the killer, and the
Government increased its offered a reward to $30,000.
The reward offer
brought some results. A man approached police to tell them that a friend
of his had had an unusual conversation with James Miller. Miller had
told the woman that he and another man Christopher Worrell were
responsible for the murders. The conversation had taken place on
February 22, 1977 two days after Worrell had died in an automobile
accident. This date was very significant to police. It was eight days
after the last abduction.
The woman who Miller
had told the story to, made a formal police statement. She told police
that Miller and Worrell would often pick up gay men, go back to the
man's house and rob them threatening to tell others they were gay. The
Miller went on to tell her that he and Chris would pick girls up and
kill them. She questioned Miller further. He said that Chris was
responsible for the actual murders, but he felt he was to blame because
he couldn't stop him. Worrell would rape the women they had picked up
and strangle them. Miller admitted he only drove the vehicle.
Miller told the woman
that he could take her to a place near Truro and show her the bodies of
she didn't believe him. She thought he had said there had been about 6
victims and that the killings had increased just before Worrell had been
killed. The woman decided not to tell police, Miller had said that
Worrell was responsible and he was dead, so there wasn't anything that
could be done anyway.
Worrell profile fitted
the police's description perfectly. He had been jailed for attempted and
rape and was released from Yatala Prison in Adelaide in October 1976.
And the car accident accounted for the cessation of the murders.
In April 1979 searchers
at Truro found two more skeletons, the remains of Vivki Howell and
Connie Iordanies. They were found close together and a kilometre from
where Veronica Knight's body was found.
Police survellience of
Miller spotted him in inner Adelaide and asked him to accompany them to
Police Headquarters to answer a few questions. Miller was question for a
while a mande no admissions. The interview was completed and the police
decided to take Miller to the charge room. Miller conceded. He decided
to show the police where the bodies are.
Police procedure made
things difficult, but in the end they took Miller out to Truro along
with forensic and pathology that evening. Just to make sure Miller
didn't have time to change his mind. The media of course found out and
two reporters were waiting at the scene when the police and Miller
Miller first directed
the police to the positions where the first four bodies had been found.
The further into the
bush, Miller stopped at a large shrub and told police that they may find
another one there. Curled up under the tree was another skeleton, that
of Julie Mykyta.
The party then drove to
Port Gawler Beach, eventually after extensive searching police
discovered the body of Deborah Lamb. Her body had been buried in a hole
which was covered with wood. The forensic team concluded that this
victim suffered the most brutal attack. Her ankles and wrists were bound
with cord, her pantyhose were wrapped around her neck and mouth. Sand
and shellgrit found in her lungs suggested she was buried alive.
The final victim,
according to Miller was buried at Gillman, an isolated area on the
outskirts of Adelaide. Police were unable to locate any remains there
for quite some time. They did in the end find the skeletal corpse of
Tania Kenny. The Police had located every girl on their missing persons
Miller was charge with
four counts of murder, then the other three were added after further
On March 12, 1980 after
a six-week trial, Miller was found guilty of six counts of murder. He
was aquitted of the murder of Veronia Knight. He was jailed for life.
Miller however claims he is innocent of murder. He said that his love
for Worrell had made him keep quiet about the killings.
Truro Killer James Miller Dies of Cancer
October 22, 2008
NOTORIOUS Truro killer James Miller has died. The
daughter of one of his six victims described the death as a "massive
Miller, 68, who had terminal cancer, was transferred
to Mary Potter Hospice from Yatala Labour Prison this week.
Niki Lamb, the daughter of victim Deborah Lamb, said
she was advised within minutes of Miller's death last night, around
His death was a "massive relief", she said.
"There will never be an end because I don't have my
mother," she said.
"But it is an end to a dark chapter and the beginning
of a new one."
Miller was jailed for life in 1980 for the murder of
six women who disappeared over the summer of 1976-77. He spent most of
the past 28 years at Yatala.
Miller, who was not due for release before 2015, was
one of the state's longest-serving prisoners.
He had always maintained he only helped bury the
victims near Truro and that the murderer was his younger friend,
Christopher Robin Worrell.
The short-lived killing spree ended when Worrell, 23,
died in a car crash - which Miller, now 68, survived - a week after the
murder of a seventh woman.
Miller was acquitted of the murder of the first
victim, Veronica Knight.
Worrell raped and killed the women while Miller - who
said at trial his job was to be "chauffeur and mug" - waited nearby.
Miller was convicted of six murders as part of a joint criminal
enterprise with Worrell.
A Correctional Services spokesman would not confirm
or deny Miller's death, because members of his family and his victims'
families would have to be notified first.
Predatory Killers Who Hunt In
By Peter Haran - Sunday
September 10, 2000
James Miller and
Christopher Worrell were among Australia's first "tandem" killers —
two men who sought out and killed seven women. The Truro murders of
the late 1970s ended when Worrell was killed in a car smash.
A new book, co-authored
by a leading criminologist, explores up to 11 cases where killers have
worked in tandem, and he asserts if Worrell had not died he and Miller
may have gone on to become Australia's worst serial killers.
The death of
Christopher Worrell in a car smash in 1977 in all likelihood saved
Australia from a rampage that may have become the country's worst serial
Worrell already had
murdered seven young women and buried them near Truro, north of Adelaide.
But one of Australia's
most famous criminologists suggests Worrell and his accomplice, lover
James Miller were entering a period of Intensity. The lag time between
the murders was getting shorter and Worrell was now following the "established
behavior of some serial killers".
Worrell and Miller are
unique, according to criminologists. They formed a partnership in murder,
they shared the intimacy of death — there is no more intimate
relationship — and usually they existed in a dominance/ submissive
The Truro killings is a
case history in serial murders that has been examined down to the
minutiae — it was the classic horror story of missing young women, the
lethal persona of a young, hedonistic killer, and a gutless eyewitness
who stood and watched rape and murder.
This was the story of
Worell and Miller, killers in tandem.
Professor Paul Wilson
in his latest book with co- author James Wulf Simmonds has examined 11
Australian and international murder cases where murder was a "shared"
experience, and taken the issue a step further — what is the bond
It was Anzac Day 1978
that William Thomas went mushrooming in desolate bushland off Swamp Rd
Truro. He found what he thought was the bone from the leg of a cow.
But the bone had a shoe
attached, and on closer examination inside the shoe he discovered skin
and neatly painted toenails. Clothes and more bones and blood nearby
resulted in a routine police investigation. The dead woman was Veronica
Knight, who was 18 when she vanished from an Adelaide street. Nothing
happened for another year, the trail was cold.
discovered the skeleton of 16-year-old Sylvia Pittman a kilometre from
where Veronica had been buried.
killings is notoriously difficult, and in the late 1970s "serial" had
still not become a crime buzz word. But to Major Crime investigator
Sergeant Bob "Hugger" Giles there was the strong suggestion of a link
between two dead women, other young women reported missing and a killer.
In fact, there were two
men abducting and killing. Christopher Worrell, young, charismatic and
psychosociopathic, and James Miller, a drifter, homosexual and totally
dependent on his friend for sex and support.
Miller went into
depression and became homeless after Worrell's car rolled and he was
killed in the South-East on February, 19, 1977. But the older man's
state of mind gave police a breakthrough when he inadvertently told a
woman about his dead mate who was thrill-killing.
That woman, known only
as Angela, collected a $40,000 reward when she eventually told police of
Miller's possible involvement in the murder of seven women, Angela told
police — and confirmed a profile they had already built up about Worrell
— of her conversation, which gave a chilling insight into the mind of
the dominant "tandem" murderer.
She said: "He (Miller)
couldn't stop Chris from doing this. He would just pick them up, rape
and strangle them. He said he just drove the vehicle for Chris... one of
the victims had been strangled with a guitar string. Jamie (Miller) said
he couldn't stop Chris from raping and killing these girls."
Miller also said
Worrell became worse before he died, and, in fact, the time lag between
the murders had been getting shorter.
In the new book, Paul
Wilson says of Worrell: "Despite popular belief to the contrary, he did
not always kill by the same method, preferring to experiment with
different ways of dealing out death. His confidence was building with
each murder, increasing his boldness and his sadistic appetite."
Prof Wilson suggests
Worrell was going to go on, far beyond seven murders, and Miller would
have gone along as the "driver".
"Had Worrell lived,
even more victims may have died and the perpetrators may never had
become known," Prof Wilson says,
Miller, who this year
was still seeking to be released from his life sentence, was the passive
follower of the pair, and he continued to follow Worrell's bidding
because he feared losing the sexual and emotional bond between the two
But did Miller go along
for other reasons? Prof Wilson says: "At worst, Miller's voyeuristic
participation in the murders — even in some instances, a physical
distance — ignited dark and pathological emotions of pleasure.
"By helping his lover
rejoice in whatever forms of hedonistic satisfaction Worrell got from
his passion for thrill-killing, Miller was, even if indirectly,
revelling in the spectre of the sexual violence that was the basis for
the Truro murders."
The Truro murders was the name given to a
series of murders uncovered with the discovery of the remains of seven
young women in bushland near the town of Truro, South Australia in
1978–1979. The women had been murdered in 1976–1977.
On 25 April 1978, William 'Bill'
Thomas and Valda Thomas found what they thought was the bone from the
leg of a cow whilst mushrooming in bushland near the South Australian
town of Truro. Upon closer inspection, they noted the bone had a shoe
attached and inside the shoe was human skin and painted toenails.
Clothes, blood stains, and more bones were found nearby. The dead woman
was later identified to be Veronica Knight, an 18 year old girl who had
vanished from an Adelaide street around Christmas of 1976.
A year later, on April 15 1979,
four bushwalkers discovered the skeletal remains of 16 year old Sylvia
Pittman, about 1 km from where Veronica's remains had been located.
Pittman had disappeared around the same time as Knight.
Serial killing was a new
phenomenon in Australia at the time, and police faced a difficult task
of piecing together evidence. There was the strong suggestion of a link
between the two dead women found in the Truro bushland, and five other
young women reported missing in Adelaide at the time.
Eleven days later a huge search
party discovered two more skeletons in a paddock on the opposite side of
the road. They were the remains of Connie Iordanides and Vicki Howell,
two of the five missing girls.
Christopher Worrell, described
as young, charismatic and psychosociopathic, and James Miller, a 40 year
old labourer, described as a drifter and homosexual partner of Worrell,
are believed to have committed the murders.
Miller first met Worrell when
both were in prison together, Miller for Breaking and entering, Worrell
for Rape and breaching a two year suspended sentence for Armed Robbery.
After release they formed a dominant/submissive relationship and both
lived and worked together. Though Worrell was not himself homosexual,
Miller was infatuated with him and Worrell would allow Miller to perform
sexual acts on him while he read pornographic, and predominantly BDSM,
magazines. As Worrell preferred women this later ceased and they became
more like brothers.
Worrell and a female friend were
killed in a car accident on February 19 1977, thus ending the murders.
Miller survived the car accident.
Miller suffered depression and
became homeless after Worrell's death. Miller's state of mind and a
chance comment were to eventually give police a breakthrough when at
Worrell's funeral, his former girlfriend, Amelia, told Miller that
Worrell had had a suspected blood clot on the brain. This prompted
Miller to tell her about Worrell's fascination with thrill killing and
he suggested the clot was possibly responsible for the moods that led
Worrell to kill.
In May 1979 she collected a
AUD$30,000 reward after providing the information to police leading to
Miller's arrest and capture. Amelia said that she had not come forward
earlier because she had no proof the admission was true and that there
wasn't much point in going to the police as Worrell was dead. It was
only after reading of the murders in the newspaper that she came forward.
It is highly likely that the murders would have gone unsolved if Amelia
hadn't come forward.
Miller was brought in for
questioning on May 23 1979. He initially denied knowing anything but
eventually stated Amelia had "done what I should have" and told
detectives there were three more. Miller was driven under guard to Truro,
Port Gawler and the Wingfield dump where he pointed out their locations.
December 23, 1976 Veronica
Veronica had become separated from her friend while shopping and
accepted a ride home. Miller claims they talked her into going for a
drive in the Adelaide foothills. Worrell parked while Miller went for
a walk. Returning to the car he found Veronica dead and allegedly
angrily confronted Worrell who pulled a knife and threatened him.
Worrell was in a "black" mood and wouldn't talk, Miller helped him
dump the body at Truro. The next morning they both returned to work.
January 2, 1977 Tania Kenny 15
Miller and Worrell picked up Tania who had just arrived in the city
after hichhiking from Victor Harbour. They drove to Miller's sister's
home and Miller sat in the car while Worrell and Tania went inside.
Worrell later returned and asked for help. Allegedly an argument
occurred and Worrell threatened to kill Miller if he did not help.
That night they buried Tania at Wingfield.
January 21, 1977 Juliet Mykyta
Julie was waiting at a bus stop after finishing a part time job in the
city when Worrell offered her a lift home. Instead he drove her to
Port Wakefield. This time Miller sat in the car while Worrell tied her
up. This was not unusual behaviour as "it was Worrell's kink" so
miller though nothing of it. Miller alleges he then went to take a
walk but turned around after hearing a disturbance. Julie was out of
the car and falling to the ground. Worrell turned her over and began
strangling her. Miller claims he tried to pull him off but was not
strong enough and again Worrell threatened to kill him. Later Julie
joined the others at Truro.
February 7, 1977 Vickie Howell
Worrell rang Miller to pick him up from the Adelaide Post Office. When
he arrived Vickie was already with him. Vikie had recently separated
from her husband and was happy to go with them to Nuriootpa. Stopping
the car Miller went for a walk but soon returned to find everything ok
so he then took a longer walk. When he returned Vickie was dead and
Worrell was in a rage. Miller claims he cursed and abused Worrell
expecting to be killed himself but Worrell said nothing. Vickie was
then taken to Truro.
February 9, 1977 Connie
Iordanides 16 (AKA Connie Jordan)
Picked up in the city centre and offered a lift home Connie became
frightened when then they drove in the wrong direction. Miller stopped
at Wingfield and Worrell forced the screaming girl into the back seat
while Miller did nothing. He left the car for a while and after
returning drove to Truro.
February 19, 1977 Deborah
Skuse (killed in the motor accident that claimed Worrell's life)
Deborah was the girlfriend of a friend. After he broke up with her
Miller and Worrell took her to mount Gambier for the weekend but
Worrell got in one of his "black" moods so they decided to return to
Adelaide on the Saturday afternoon. Worrell was driving when the car
blew a tyre and rolled several times throwing all three onto the road.
Worrell and Deborah died while Miller broke his shoulderblade.
All the victims had been
strangled although there was a strong suspicion that the last of the
victims, Deborah Lamb, had been alive when buried.
It has been suggested by
criminologist, Professor Paul Wilson, that had Worrell not been killed,
the Truro murders may have become a much more devastating killing spree
as Worrell was following the "established behavior of some serial
killers" with the time between murders getting shorter. Miller himself
told Worrell's girlfriend before his arrest that "It was getting worse
lately. It was happening more often. It was perhaps a good thing that
Miller stood trial for the
murders, and was found guilty of six of the seven murders (with the
exception of the first murder, Veronica Knight) on March 12, 1980.
Unusually, he was convicted of murder despite having never touched a
The testimony at his trial
revealed a terrifying story. Miller and Worrell would cruise the local
streets in Worrell's 1969 blue and white Chrysler Valiant every night,
looking for women that Worrell could have sex with. Worrell was 23,
charismatic and good-looking, and this was a time of sexual revolution
in Australia, so Worrell regularly "picked up" local girls. Miller would
drive Worrell and the woman to a secluded place, where Worrell would
have sex with the women, often after tying them up, while Miller waited
outside the car. Then Miller would drive them back into town and drop
Miller described how the "pick-ups"
became more and more terrifying. First, Worrell started occasionally
raping the women. Then he started murdering them. Miller was unaware
that murder would occur prior to it happening - he stated that it only
happened some times and not others. It appeared that as the violence
increased, Miller became increasingly scared of Worrell.
"They can give me life for
knowing about the murders and not reporting them. But they charged me
with murder .. It's a load of bullshit."
Following the trial one of the
jurors hired a lawyer to petition the Attorney-General for a retrial.
South Australian Chief Justice Len King agreed that Miller should be
granted another hearing on the grounds that the judge at his trial, Mr
Justice Matheson, had instructed the jury to find Miller guilty of
murder. However, the Attorney-General, Chris Sumner, refused to grant a
Legally, Miller argued that he
never engaged in any murders directly, nor did he explicitly agree prior
to going out cruising for women that he would support Worrell in the
murders. Nevertheless, he was found guilty of murder because he was
found to be a part of a joint criminal enterprise. This created
subsequent legal difficulties over the definition of a joint criminal
enterprise, but these have largely been resolved on the basis that this
was a special, and particularly horrifying, case.
In 1999, Miller applied to have
a non-parole period set and on February 8, 2000, Chief Justice John
Doyle granted a non-parole period of 35 years making Miller eligible for
parole in 2014.
On October 22, 2008, it was
reported that James Miller had died of terminal cancer, at the age of
Christopher Robin Worrell and James William Miller: The Truro Murderers
Paul B. Kidd
The Truro Serial Murders
James William Miller is Australia’s least
likely sexual assailant and serial killer of young women. James Miller
is a homosexual. Yet, by his own admission, in December 1976 and January
1977 he helped the man he loved, Christopher Robin Worrell, dispose of
the bodies of seven young women who Worrell had sexually assaulted and
then murdered while Miller was waiting nearby.
James Miller led police to the buried remains of some
of the victims and for his part in the crimes is serving six life
sentences for murder in South Australia’s Yatala Prison. But while
Miller admits that he drove the vehicle that Worrell used to pick the
young women up in and then left Worrell to commit murder in private
before returning to the vehicle and driving Worrell and the deceased
women to the outskirts of South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, and
helping to bury their bodies, Miller steadfastly denies helping Worrell
abduct the victims or that he assisted in the sexual assaults and
murders that followed.
The only person who could prove James Miller’s
innocence is the alleged murderer, 23-year-old Christopher Robin
Worrell. But Chris Worrell is dead. James Miller has never had sex with
a woman. He is a convicted thief, but he has no record of violence. At
the time of the murders he was 38 years old.
“I was there at the time and for that I am guilty of
an unforgivable felony,” Miller has said from his Adelaide prison cell.
“I fully deserve the life sentences I am currently serving. I am serving
out a life sentence for Chris. But I never killed any of those girls.
That’s the truth.”
Miller has been protesting his innocence of murder
for years, on occasion backing up his pleas with rooftop gaol protest
strikes, including one that lasted for 43 days. But he has been ignored
by authorities and his conviction stands.
South Australian Chief Justice, Len King, agreed that
Miller should be granted another hearing on the grounds that the judge
at his trial, Mr Justice Matheson, had instructed the jury to find
Miller guilty of murder even though he had pleaded not guilty.
The Attorney-General, Chris Sumner, refused to grant
a retrial. Miller maintained: “They can give me life for knowing about
the murders and not reporting them. But they charged me with murder as a
pay back for not informing on Worrell. It’s a load of bullshit. At least
one of the jurists at my trials knows the truth. In 1987 he (the juror)
paid a couple of hundred dollars out of his own pocket to help hire a
lawyer to petition the Attorney-General for a retrial. If a jurist does
this, he must have a fair idea of what really happened.”
Protesting his innocence, Miller said: “Nobody turns
into a cold-blooded murderer overnight or helps commit murder. I’m just
an ordinary thief, no killer. I have never been a violent man.”
The Truro Serial Murders are among the most infamous
of Australian serial killings. Seven young women disappeared in Adelaide
in the 51 days between December 23, 1976 and February 12, 1977.
The skeletal remains of four of the victims were
discovered in bush graves over a 12 month period in 1978-79 in the Truro
district, 80 kilometres north-east of Adelaide. What was left of
Veronica Knight was found by a mushroomer, William Thomas, on April 25,
1978, in a remote paddock off Swamp Road.
Mr Thomas said he had seen a leg bone with a shoe
attached which he had thought to be the leg of a cow. He had thought
about the find for five days and had returned on Anzac Day with his wife
to check. He had turned over the bone and seen skin in good condition
and toenails painted with nail polish.
After he had found a skull, other bones, a bloodstain
on the ground and items of clothing, he had contacted police. Swamp Road
is so named because it divides a huge flood plain into two tree-dotted
flat paddocks. The area’s only permanent inhabitants are mosquitos and
frogs and the only sign that humans have ever been near the area is the
barbed-wire fence running along the roadside. It is a perfect place to
hide a body. You would only come across it by accident.
When the mushroomer reported the find, police
searched the area thoroughly and found personal effects that would help
them identify the victim. There was no reason for them to suspect that
there were more bodies in the soggy paddock.
Almost a year later on 15 April 1979, four young
bushwalkers discovered a skeleton in the same paddock about a kilometre
up Swamp Road from the spot where Veronica Knight was found. From
jewellery and clothing found at the scene, police identified the
skeleton as that of Sylvia Pittman, who had gone missing around
Christmas in 1976. This was the same time that Veronica Knight had
Police files revealed that five more young women had
disappeared from the area during that period. The officer in charge of
the enquiry, Detective Superintendent K. Harvey, said that police had
always considered the disappearance of each girl as suspicious and their
cases had been under constant investigation.
He said that about 3000 people were reported missing
each year in South Australia and that usually all but about fifteen of
them were located. When none of the girls who had gone missing in that
1976-77 period turned up, he knew it was more than coincidence.
Now that he had good reason to believe that the girls
were the victims of a serial killer, Harvey was certain that other
bodies would turn up and ordered a search of the paddock by 70 police.
“We don’t know what we will find,” he said. “We will
be looking for any clues to the killing of the two girls we have found
but we can’t overlook the fact that we may find the bodies of some of
these other missing girls.”
Eleven days later Superintendent Harvey’s suspicions
were confirmed when the huge search party discovered two more skeletons
in the opposite paddock. They were the remains of Connie Iordanides and
Vicki Howell, two of the missing girls. The police were baffled. The
fact that the bodies had been there for so long left them few clues. The
trail was stone cold. They appealed to the public for help.
In May, a woman identifying herself as ‘Angela’
informed police that she knew of a man who could help them with their
She said that a distraught James Miller had told her
about girls being ‘done in’ in a conversation at a funeral in February
1977. Miller confessed that he and the man whose funeral they were
attending, Christopher Worrell, ‘had done something terrible’. He also
told ‘Angela’ “Chris had to die.”
It was eventually revealed that the clandestine
‘Angela’ was in fact Amelia, who was Christopher Worrell’s girlfriend at
the time that he was killed. Miller allegedly told Amelia that the
bodies were buried near Blanchetown and she had not realised that was
near where the bodies had been found until she saw a map of the area in
“I only had suspicions but suspicions are not enough
to go to the police. I had no facts. I suspected that it was the truth
and I didn’t want to go to the police”, she said. Miller had told her
that the murdered girls were just ‘rags’ and not worth much. He had said
that one of them even enjoyed it.
“I did the driving and went along to make sure that
nothing went wrong”, Miller allegedly told Amelia. “They had to be done
in so they would not point the finger at us.
“If you don't believe me I will take you to where
they are. It was getting worse lately. It was happening more often. It
was perhaps a good thing that Chris died”. He also told Amelia that
Worrell had ‘done away with two in WA.’
The informant said that she had not come forward with
this vital information because she did not want to ‘dob’ anyone in.
Besides, there wasn’t much point in going to the police as the alleged
murderer, Christopher Worrell, was dead. She said that Miller would only
be used as a ‘scapegoat’.
Miller wasn’t hard to find. Destitute, he was running
odd jobs for Adelaide’s Central Mission in return for a bed and food at
a day centre. Eight plain-clothes detectives were put on
around-the-clock surveillance of Miller and he was picked up when he
tried to make a run for it when he realised that he was being followed.
Detained for questioning on May 23, 1979, the
detectives heading the investigation, Detective Sergeant Glen Lawrie and
Detective Peter Foster of the Major Crime Squad, knew that if they
didn’t get a full confession, or that if Miller didn’t reveal the
locations of more bodies, then he could walk out of the police station a
There was not one shred of evidence to link him to
the killings. All they had to go on was the say-so of the witness. In
the first few hours of his interview at Angas Street Police
Headquarters, Miller denied any knowledge of the girls or the killings,
giving vague and false answers about knowing anyone named Amelia, let
alone having a conversation with her.
When shown photos of Amelia and Worrell together,
Miller suddenly remembered knowing them and when confronted with
Amelia’s statement accusing him of murder, Miller said, referring to the
$30,000 reward on offer for any information leading to a conviction of
the murders; “Maybe she’s short of money”, to which Detective Lawrie
replied; “Do you really believe that? Is that what you want me to tell
Miller then said; “No. On second thoughts, maybe
she’s done what I should do. Can I have a few minutes to think about
A short time later, after being interviewed for six
hours, Miller finally said; “If I can clear this up will everyone else
be left out of it? I suppose I’ve got nothing else to look forward to
whatever way it goes. I guess I’m the one who got mixed up in all of
this. Where do you want me to start?”
Miller then continued to make the statement; “I drove
around with Chris and we picked up girls around the city. Chris would
talk to the girls and get them into the car and we would take them for a
drive and take them to Truro and Chris would rape them and kill them.
But you’ve got to believe that I had nothing to do with the actual
killings of those girls.”
A seemingly sympathetic Detective Lawrie told Miller
that he understood that he was hopelessly in love with Worrell and that
he could see how he would do anything for him. This seemed to give
Miller confidence in the detective.
“Alright then, there’s three more,” Miller said
quietly. “I’ll show you.”
Detectives Lawrie and Foster breathed an enormous
sigh of relief and even though it was 10.30 at night, Miller was driven
under heavy escort to Truro, Port Gawler and the Wingfield dump where he
pointed out the locations of the remains of three more girls. Forensic
evidence later showed that the last victim, Deborah Lamb, could have
been buried alive.
Understandably, the police didn’t believe that James
Miller had taken no part in the murders as it was almost impossible to
imagine that seven decent young ladies would get into a car with two
total strangers and willingly go to their deaths.
In most cases the women involved had other plans and
a casual liaison would appear to have been the last thing on their
minds. Debbie Lamb was engaged to be married, Julie Mykyta was on her
way home and Connie Jordan was waiting for a friend to go to the movies.
To the detectives it looked more like Miller had
helped his friend abduct the women against their wills and more than
likely held the victims as they were raped and murdered.
Back at the police station after leading the
detectives to the last three bodies, Miller then told his horrifying
story from the beginning.
James Miller had spent the best part of his 34 years
behind bars. Friendless and a loner, Miller was from a family of six
kids and had left home at a very early age. At age 11 he was sent to the
Magill Reform School and with no formal education he resorted to
stealing for a living and sometimes worked as an itinerant labourer.
In the following years Miller was convicted on more
than 30 occasions for car theft, numerous forms of larceny and breaking,
entering and stealing. But, as Miller strenuously pointed out time and
again, he had never had a conviction for violence or a sexual offence.
Miller was doing three months, the shortest custodial
sentence he had ever received, in Adelaide Jail for breaking into a gun
shop, when he met Christopher Worrell who was awaiting trial on a rape
charge. Worrell was also on a two year suspended sentence for armed
robbery at the time of his arrest.
The homosexual Miller became infatuated with the
handsome young man with long dark hair and slim build and they became
friends. Within a week they were sharing a cell together. The
20-year-old Christopher Worrell told Miller that he had never known his
real father and when he was six years old his mother married his
stepfather. Worrell claimed to have served time in the Royal Australian
Worrell was sentenced to four years on the rape
charge and an additional two years for breaching his suspended sentence.
When Worrell was sentenced the judge described him as a ‘depraved and
disgusting human being’. Both Miller and Worrell were transferred to
Yatala Prison where, although they no longer shared a cell, they
remained inseparable friends until Miller was released after serving his
But it wasn’t long before Miller was back at Yatala
with his new friend Chris Worrell. This time he got 18 months for
stealing 4000 pairs of sunglasses and offering them for sale in hotels
Nine months after Miller was released Worrell was
granted early parole and they teamed up on the outside where Miller
lived with his married sister and her two little girls. Christopher
Worrell was a regular visitor to the Miller household and the two men
planned on getting a flat together.
The passive Miller often performed oral sex on
Worrell while he read bondage magazines but Worrell obviously preferred
women and eventually the sexual side of the relationship diminished and
they became more like brothers. Soon they were working together in the
same road labouring gang on the Unley local council. James Miller
described these times as the best in his life.
There was nothing that the besotted Miller would not
do for his friend, Chris Worrell. However, the relationship was often
difficult because Worrell was a very strange and moody person who would
fly into fits of rage over the slightest thing and it took all of
Miller’s calming persuasion to quieten him down.
By now Chris Worrell was 23 and very good looking.
His natural gift of the gab saw to it that he had no trouble picking up
girls. While Miller drove him around in his old 1969 blue and white
Valiant car, Worrell would solicit girls at bus stops, hotels and
railway stations. Miller would drive the couple to remote spots and go
for a walk while Worrell had sex with the girl in the back of the car.
Often Worrell would tie the girls up. When he thought
that they would be finished Miller returned to the car and drove them
back to town. According to Miller’s unsigned statement this happened
many times and he had no reason to think that Worrell would start
killing the girls.
The Killings Begin
By December 1976, Worrell and Miller were still
working together as labourers at the Unley Council and were sharing a
flat at Ovingham. Every night Miller would drive Worrell to look for
girls. In fact, Miller was so devoted to Worrell that he often slept in
the car overnight while his friend was in an apartment with a new
Miller said that on the night of Thursday, December
23, 1976, the stores of Adelaide were packed with shoppers buying
last-minute Christmas gifts. There were lots of young women about that
night and Worrell told Miller to drive around the main block of the city
shopping centre while he went for a walk.
Worrell often went off on his own. This time he was
quite a while and Miller had to drive around the block twice before he
picked up Worrell and 18-year-old Veronica Knight at the front of the
Majestic Hotel. Veronica had accepted the offer of a lift home. She
lived at the nearby Salvation Army Hostel in Angas Street and had become
separated from her friend while shopping at the City Cross Arcade. This
was when Worrell introduced himself and on the way to her home the
persuasive young man allegedly talked her into going for a drive with
them into the Adelaide foothills.
Miller pulled the car into a sidetrack and Worrell
forced the girl into the back seat. Miller went for a walk to allow his
friend some privacy and waited for half an hour before returning to the
car. Worrell was sitting in the front seat and the girl was lying
motionless on the floor in the back. She was fully dressed. Worrell told
Miller that he had just raped and murdered the girl. Miller flew into a
rage and grabbed Worrell by the shirt.
“You fool, you fucking fool,” he yelled at Worrell.
“Do you want to ruin everything.” While Miller had him by the shirt,
Worrell produced a long wooden handled knife and held it to Miller’s
throat. He told Miller to let him go or he would kill him as well.
There was no doubt in Miller’s mind that Worrell
Worrell directed Miller to drive through Gawler and
towards Truro a few miles further on. They drove down a dirt track
called Swamp Road and pulled over next to a wooded area. When Miller
resisted helping Worrell lift the body from the car, Worrell again
threatened him with the knife. Then they disposed of the body. “He asked
me to give him a hand to carry her into the bushes,” Miller said. “Her
hands were tied. He always tied them. We got through the fence and
dragged her under.”
Together they lay the body on the ground and covered
it with branches and leaves. They then drove back to Adelaide. The
following day they reported for work as if nothing had happened.
Worrell, who had been in a bad mood ever since the killing, was back to
his normal effervescent self by the time they reached work.
Living in Terror
They never discussed the murder. Miller didn’t want
to raise the subject as he believed that Worrell would kill him. Never
at any time did Miller contemplate telling the police of the murder. Had
he done so six more young lives would have been saved. Miller’s only
concern was his friendship with Worrell. In the future a jury would
consider this when they determined if Miller was guilty of murder.
At 9 am on January 2, 1977, Miller dropped Worrell
off at the Rundle Mall and agreed to pick him up at the other end.
Miller waited for a short time and Worrell returned with 15-year-old
Tania Kenny who had just hitchhiked up from Victor Harbour. Worrell had
chatted her up in the street.
They drove to Miller’s sister’s home on the pretext
of picking up some clothes. After checking that no one was home, Worrell
and Tania went into the house while Miller waited in the car. Eventually
Worrell came out to the car and asked Miller to come inside. From the
look on Worrell’s face, Miller knew that something was drastically
In the children’s playroom he found Tania’s body
bound with rope and gagged with a piece of sticking plaster. She was
fully clothed and had been strangled. Miller and Worrell had another
violent argument. Again Worrell threatened to kill him if Miller didn’t
help him hide the body.
Hiding the dead girl in a cupboard, they returned
later that night, put the body in the car and drove to Wingfield at the
back of the Dean Rifle Range. Here they buried Tania in a shallow grave
they had dug earlier in the day. Miller maintained that he helped bury
the body because he didn’t want to get his sister involved.
Police examine the remains of Tania Kenny
On the way back from disposing of the body Miller
suggested to Worrell that he should see a doctor and try to find out
what was making him commit the horrible murders. Worrell told him to
mind his own business. Again, Miller could have stopped the murders
there and then simply by going to the police.
But he didn’t. He later claimed that his attachment
to Christopher Worrell, who was the only friend he had ever had, was the
one thing that mattered in his life. The killings would continue. And
rather than be without his friend the besotted Miller would allow them
to go on.
With the second murder behind them, Miller and
Worrell continued to pick up girls every night. Their favourite spots
were the Adelaide Railway Station, Rundle Mall, hotels in the city, and
the Mediterranean and Buckingham Arms hotels. Miller never played any
part in the soliciting of the girls. He claimed that he was just ‘the
chauffeur and the mug’.
On January 21, 1977 they met 16-year old Juliet
Mykyta at the Ambassador's Hotel in King William Street. She had just
rung her parents to tell them that she was going to be a little late
getting home and that they were not to worry. Juliet was a student at
Marsden High School and had taken a job in the holidays selling
jewellery from a kerbside stall in the city. She was sitting on the
steps of the hotel waiting for a bus at 9pm when Worrell offered her a
Miller drove to one of their usual spots along the
secluded Port Wakefield Road and Worrell forced the girl into the back
seat while Miller sat in the front, waiting to be told to leave. While
he was sitting there, Worrell started to tie the girl up. She offered
resistance but Worrell was too strong. Miller said he didn’t find
anything unusual about Worrell tying the girl up. He had done it to lots
of them before but usually with willing partners. It turned him on. It
was his kink.
Miller got out of the car and walked about 50 metres
away. He heard voices and turned to see the girl out of the car and
falling forward to the ground as if she had been kicked in the stomach.
Worrell rolled her over with his foot, knelt on her stomach and
strangled her with a length of rope.
Miller claimed he grabbed Worrell’s arm and tried to
drag him off the girl but Worrell pushed him away and threatened to kill
him if he interfered. Miller shook his head and walked away. When he
came back, the body was already in the back of the car. Worrell was in a
black mood and Miller did as he demanded. He drove the car to Truro but
avoided going near the other bodies and went to a deserted farmhouse on
a completely different track away from Swamp Road. From there they
carried the fully clothed body into the thick trees and covered it with
branches and leaves. They then drove back to Adelaide.
Four Murders in a Week
On February 6, Miller and Worrell picked up
16-year-old Sylvia Pitmann as she waited for a train at Adelaide
Station. They drove to the Windang area where Worrell instructed Miller
to go for a walk as soon as they arrived. After half an hour Miller
returned to find the girl lying face down on the back seat with a rug
over her. She had been strangled with her own pantyhose.
Worrell was impossible to talk to. He had lapsed into
one of the moods that always occurred after a murder. Miller didn’t say
a word and they drove in silence to Truro where they unloaded the body.
She was fully clothed and was not tied or gagged. They covered the
corpse with leaves and branches and headed back to Adelaide.
The following day, February 7, 1977, Worrell told
Miller to pick him up at the Adelaide Post Office building at 7pm. With
Worrell was 26-year-old Vicki Howell. Vicki was older than the others
and Miller took a liking to her straight away. Vicki seemed to have a
few worries and mentioned that she was separated from her husband.
Miller silently hoped that Worrell wouldn’t kill her. She seemed
completely at ease.
Worrell even had Miller stop the car so the girl
could use the toilet at Nuriootpa. A little further on Miller stopped
the car and leaving the couple to chat he went to the bushes to relieve
himself. He returned a few minutes later on the pretext that he had
forgotten his cigarettes. He was really checking to see if the girl was
all right. She was nice. He didn’t want Worrell to kill her.
Miller assumed that Vicki would not be murdered and
walked away into the bush. Worrell didn’t appear to be in one of his
moods. When he was satisfied that they had had enough time to talk,
Miller returned to the car to find Worrell kneeling on the front seat
and leaning into the back. He was covering Vicki Howell’s body with the
blanket. She had been strangled.
Miller could not control his anger. He cursed and
abused Worrell for what he had done. It was not necessary to kill the
girl. He could have just talked to her and let her go without fear of
After Miller had vented his rage, he went quiet,
terrified that Worrell would kill him too. He meekly asked Worrell why
he had to kill the girl. Worrell gave no excuse. Instead he told Miller
to drive to Truro. Miller was terrified of Worrell and did as he bade.
At Truro they hid the body under foliage before driving back to
Two days later, on February 9, Miller and Worrell
were cruising in the centre of Adelaide when they spotted 16-year-old
Connie Iordanides standing on the footpath laughing and giggling to
herself. They did a U-turn, pulled up in front of the girl and asked if
she wanted a lift. She accepted and sat in the front between the two
men. Connie became frightened when the car headed in the opposite
direction. Miller stopped at secluded Wingfield and Worrell forced the
screaming girl into the back seat. Miller did nothing to help the girl
and got out and walked away from the car. When he returned to the car,
Connie Iordanides was dead.
Worrell had strangled and raped her. She was on the
back seat covered with a blanket. Again Worrell was in a foul mood and
Miller was too terrified to say anything. He did as he was instructed
and dumped the fully clothed body under bushes at Truro. That night
Miller and Worrell slept in the car at Victoria Park Racecourse.
On February 12, 1977 they committed their fourth
murder in a week. In the early hours of Sunday morning Miller and
Worrell were cruising in the vicinity of the pinball arcades at the City
Bowl and picked up 20-year-old hitchhiker Deborah Lamb. Worrell
suggested that they could take her to Port Gawler and the girl allegedly
accepted the ride. Once they reached the beach at Port Gawler, Miller
left them alone and went for a walk in the scrub. When he returned to
the car, Worrell was standing in front of it, filling in a hole in the
sand by pushing sand into it with his feet. The girl was nowhere to be
At Miller's trial, Dr C. H. Manock, the Director of
Forensic Pathology at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science,
said it was possible that Deborah Lamb had been alive when placed in the
“The sand and shellgrit would have formed an
obstruction to the airway and prevented air from entering the air
passages,” he said. He added that it was impossible to say this
positively because of the advanced state of decomposition of soft tissue
when the body was found.
Dr Manock saw a pair of pantyhose found wrapped seven
times around the mouth and jaw of Deborah Lamb’s remains that could have
caused death by asphyxia. If he chose to, Miller could have saved all of
the victims’ lives, but he said that he was terrified that Worrell would
kill him if he did. Miller maintained that he did not see Deborah’s body
in the grave. But later he would lead police to it.
Detective Sergeant Lawrie said that Miller had said
towards the end of the interrogation: “I know it might sound crazy after
all this. I don’t hold to murder. I really believe in the death penalty.
An eye-for-an-eye. Believe me, I wanted no part of this, it was like a
nightmare. Each time we picked up one of those girls, I had no idea of
Fate Steps In
While returning from Mount Gambier on Saturday,
February 19, 1977, Christopher Worrell was killed in a car accident. A
female passenger in the car, Deborah Skuse, was also killed. James
Miller, escaped with a fractured shoulder.
Miller and Worrell had become friendly with Debbie
Skuse when they first went to visit her boyfriend, whom they had known
in jail, only to find that he had walked out on her.
To help Debbie get over losing her boyfriend they had
taken her to Mount Gambier for the weekend but Worrell had become moody
and they decided to return to Adelaide on the Saturday afternoon. Late
in the afternoon Worrell was at the wheel after drinking several cans of
beer and was driving recklessly through countryside north of Millicent.
Debbie begged for him to slow down and a row ensued
with Worrell screaming at the distraught girl and telling her to shut
up. Then Worrell yelled, “We’ve got a blow out,” and the car careered
out of control onto the other side of the road into the oncoming
In an effort to avoid a head-on collision with a
vehicle coming the other way, Worrell careered the old Valiant off the
side of the road where it spun over and over many times until it came to
rest with the three occupants spilled out onto the grass. The accident
had been witnessed by several bystanders who ran immediately to the
scene but there was little they could do.
Debbie Skuse and Christopher Worrell were dead where
they lay. James Miller suffered a shoulder injury and was taken to
hospital in shock. It was his worst nightmare come true. The one and
only friend he had ever had in the world was dead.
At his funeral, a distraught Miller spoke with Chris
Worrell’s girlfriend, Amelia, who would later come forward as ‘Angela’,
and told her that Worrell had had a suspected blood clot on the brain.
This prompted Miller to tell Amelia that Worrell had been murdering
young girls and that maybe the blood clot had caused him to commit these
Although Amelia had been seeing Worrell for only a
short time, she had liked him very much and was deeply distressed by his
death. Amelia kept her dark secret until the skeletons started turning
up almost two years later. Then she told police about what James Miller
had told her at the funeral.
In her statement to the police Amelia claimed that
Miller had said the victims “were only rags and weren’t worth much”. She
also claimed that Miller had said: “They had to be done in so that they
could not point the finger at us”. Miller strenuously denied ever making
After Worrell’s death, Miller moved from place to
place, sometimes sleeping in abandoned cars and at other times staying
at the St Vincent de Paul and the Central Mission day centre. With
Worrell dead and Miller living the life of a transient, it is highly
likely that the murders would have gone unsolved if Amelia hadn’t come
At his trial in February 1980, Miller pleaded not
guilty to seven counts of murder. He sat quietly as the prosecution tore
his defence apart. The Crown prosecutor, Mr B. J. Jennings, was
merciless in his attack, claiming that Miller and Worrell had ‘lived,
worked and indeed committed murder together’.
He alleged that it was a joint enterprise that they
pick up girls and murder them. “He referred to the girls as “rags”. That
was the attitude that led him to throw in his lot with Worrell,” he
said. “No rapist and murderer could have had a more faithful or obliging
Mr Jennings continued; “You will never know the truth
but have no doubt that it is a horrible truth that these young women
were murdered because they were going to point the finger at the young
man who tied them up and sexually abused them. They could also point the
finger at the older man who ignored their plight and their terror. If a
man assists another by driving him to a place where a girl is going to
be raped and killed, then he is guilty of murder.”
It was obvious, Mr Jennings said, that no one could
possibly believe the girls had been willing partners in their own
murders and that Worrell had never used any force. This was what Miller
would have the court believe. Mr Jennings went on to say that the Crown
rejected the claims that Miller had played no part in the sexual prelude
to the girl’s deaths. He said that three of the victims had been dumped
They were Tania Kenny, who was found only in a shirt;
Vicki Howell, who was found only in shorts and Deborah Lamb who was
buried only in pantyhose. Counsel for the defence, Mr K. P. Duggan, QC,
said that there was a tendency to use Miller as a scapegoat: “He was
just waiting for Worrell and there was no joint enterprise as far as he
was concerned. Miller had found himself in one of the oldest
relationship problems in the world that of the involvement in the
wrongdoing of someone else. He was trapped in a web of circumstance.
Although Miller admits that he handled the situation incorrectly, he
maintains that he is not a murderer.”
The jury did not agree with the defence and on March
12, 1980 Miller was found guilty of six counts of murder. He was found
not guilty of the murder of the first victim, Veronica Knight. The jury
agreed that he did not know that Worrell intended to murder the girl.
Mr Justice Matheson sentenced Miller to the maximum
term of six life sentences. As Miller was led from the court, he snarled
at Detective Sergeant Lawrie: “You filthy liar, Lawrie – you mongrel”.
If anyone in the courtroom had any compassion for
Miller it must have been dispelled in July 1984, when Miller was
interviewed in prison after his 43-day hunger strike. “Chris Worrell was
my best friend in the world,” he said. “If he had lived, maybe 70 would
have been killed. And I wouldn’t have ever dobbed him in.”
In late 1999, James Miller applied to have a
non-parole period set in the hope that one day he may be released. On
February 8, 2000, Chief Justice John Doyle of the South Australian
Supreme Court granted Miller a non-parole period of 35 years from the
date of his arrest.
James William Miller is
in top-security Yatala prison in South Australia. He will be eligible
for parole in the year 2014. He will be 74 years old.
Miller, James William (1938- ); Worrell, Christopher Robin
SEX: 2M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex.
VENUE: Adelaide, Australia
MO: Bisexual lovers who stabbed young women after sex.
DISPOSITION: Worrell killed in car crash, Feb. 19, 1977; Miller
sentenced to life on six counts, 1980.