Eugene Carroll Field was identified as the lead suspect in the February 29, 1968 rape and murder of 60-year-old Gwen Vivian Miller in Rapid City, South Dakota. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Field.
Miller was a pharmacist, and when she failed to show up for work at a local hospital, her co-workers went to her home to look for her. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted. She had broken bones in her neck and ribs and is thought to have died from strangulation. Miller had earned her Pharmacy degree from South Dakota State University (then South Dakota State College) and was the Head Pharmacist at the Bennett-Clarkson Memorial Hospital.
A DNA profile of the offender was developed from semen in 2018. The FGG investigation was conducted by Colleen Fitzpatrick of Identifinders.
Eugene Carroll Field died in 2009 of throat cancer, from a tumour that likely blocked his breathing. Confirmation to crime scene DNA was provided by a full sibling – a living brother of Field. Field had lived in the area at the time of Miller’s murder, and former partners report that he was abusive towards them.
Michael Beckers, the owner of Beckers Pharmacy, was long the main suspect in this case, as he had made advances towards Miller which she had rejected. He was widely believed to be responsible for the murder by the police and within the community. He was cleared only years later through DNA, along with about 25 other suspects after the profile was developed in 2018.
Associated Press. “Investigators Crack Cold Case Murder of South Dakota Woman.” City News, June 18, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/06/18/investigators-crack-cold-case-murder-of-south-dakota-woman/.
Mitchell, Trevor J. “Rapid City Police Solve 51-Year-Old Cold Case with Help of Genealogy.” Argus Leader, June 17, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2019/06/17/rapid-city-police-solve-51-year-old-cold-case-help-genealogy-gwen-miller/1481518001/.
Zionts, Arielle. “DNA, Genealogy Help Solve 1968 Rapid City Rape, Murder.” Billings Gazette, June 21, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/dna-genealogy-help-solve-1968-rapid-city-rape-murder/article_dc04619d-bc1f-5b70-bbe9-86559577b904.html.
Zionts, Arielle. “DNA, Genealogy Identify 1968 Rapid City Rapist, Murderer.” Rapid City Journal, June 17, 2019, last modified July 25, 2019. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/dna-genealogy-identify-1968-rapid-city-rapist-murderer/article_9f0e53af-4efd-5a54-8494-f17f84a5b3b8.html.