First Internet Murder


On November 8, 1999 Bruce Miller was found dead at his junkyard business in Mt. Morris, Michigan. He had been shot by a 20 gauge shotgun. Police assumed it was a robbery gone bad or a shady business partner. Junkyards are not known for their upstanding clientele and there didn’t appear to be anything else to justify the murder. After a few months the investigation had gone cold and seemed destined to remain unsolved.

However, a suicide in Odessa, Missouri in January of 2000, revealed a shocking twist in the case. Former Police Officer Jerry Cassaday shot himself in the head after battling drugs and alcohol for some time. What was in his suicide note came as quite a surprise to investigators in Michigan. He admitted to the murder of Bruce Miller and directly implicated Bruce’s wife, Sharee Miller, in the case. It turned out that Cassaday had met Sharee Miller while she was on vacation in Reno, Nevada. They began a torrid affair. The two sent each other emails and instant messages during their relationship. Investigators found that Sharee had, over months, made Bruce Miller seem like the definition of an evil, abusive husband. She claimed that he was in the mafia, had hit her, and had caused the death of her unborn child with Cassaday amongst other accusations. Sharee even forged an email allegedly from Bruce Miller to Cassaday claiming that he had intentionally killed the unborn child. Now it was time to act. Sharee and Cassaday hatched a plan over their internet chats. Sharee carefully led Cassaday to the decision to kill and how to carry out the act.

After the homicide, Cassaday and Sharee Miller’s relationship fell apart. Cassaday, who was not too stable to begin with, increasingly turned to drugs and alcohol. Pangs of guilt tortured his mind daily. The end of the relationship with Sharee exacerbated his mental anguish. He decided to check out and admit his guilt. A suitcase was found near his body with details of the crime and multiple printed emails between him and Sharee.

Detectives were able to recover more of the messages between Sharee Miller and Jerry Cassaday. They put together the lies and the manipulation that led to her husband’s death. In 2001 Sharee Miller was sentenced to life in prison for her crimes. This was considered the first time that internet communications were the main evidence of guilt in a homicide trial. Without those emails and other internet based communications, there would be very little evidence against Sharee. Gathering electronic evidence now is a routine step conducted by detectives. In 2000 it was groundbreaking.


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