Thursday, August 24, 2023

"...In the prime of his predatory years"

The Murder of Kristin Lodge-Miller

By Robert A. Waters

The Crime

At 6:00, on the morning of July 15, 1993, Kristin Ann Lodge-Miller, 26, headed out for a jog in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She had no idea she would never come home.

The (Raleigh) News and Observer reported that Kristin “slipped on an old T-shirt and a pair of orange and pink jogging shorts, grabbed her keychain with a small can of mace, and headed out the door for her morning run.” The tree-lined running trail on Estes Drive near her home seemed especially peaceful. After a three-mile run, she planned to drive to her job as a speech therapist for children and elderly stroke victims.

Kristin, a stunningly beautiful mid-western girl, had earned her undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology, and later obtained her master’s degree in the same field.  She and her husband, Erik, moved to Chapel Hill when he was accepted into the graduate business school at the University of North Carolina.

As the sun rose, citizens of the college town began milling about. On the sidewalk that runs parallel to Estes Boulevard (pictured), Kristin passed walkers and other joggers. She must have felt safe. Who would attack someone with so many people around?

From a stand of trees beside the walkway, a teenaged boy jumped Kristin. He attempted to drag her into some bushes, but she fought back. Spraying her assailant with mace, she broke away and fled. Her attacker, who later told cops Kristin made him angry by fighting back, chased her. As he closed the gap, he pulled a .32-caliber handgun from his pocket and fired six shots. Three bullets pierced her back. Staggering, Kristin dropped to the ground. Her assailant then ran up to her, placed the gun to the back of her head and pulled the trigger.

According to The Chapel Hill Herald, “Police found four spent shell casings on the road—two located within three feet of her body…A fifth spent shell was found about 11 feet away and a sixth forty-five feet away, indicating that the assailant fired the gun while chasing her, then shot her at close range as she fell, police said.” They located Kristin’s mace cannister near her body. It was half-empty, with sticky residue still on it.

The crime happened so fast onlookers couldn’t help. Numerous calls from horrified witnesses crackled into the 9-1-1 system and within a couple of minutes, cops and paramedics arrived. EMTs raced Kristin to a nearby hospital where she was officially pronounced dead.

Observers provided investigators a detailed description of the shooter. In less than an hour, cops arrested 18-year-old Anthony Georg Simpson. The killer was riding his bicycle through the heart of the city, seemingly without a care in the world.

In November of 1992, the teen had moved with his mother, Karen, into a new condominium. Coventry, on Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was high-end, owned by Ethan Horton, a cousin of Karen. Horton, who had been a football star at the University of North Carolina, now played for the Los Angeles Raiders.

The News and Observer reported that in his home state of Virginia, Simpson “had been suspended from school 23 times for insubordination, fistfights, and disrespect. He appeared in juvenile court three times and was labeled ‘beyond parental control.’”

The Daily Tar Hill reported that he had served time in two Virginia facilities. “When [Simpson] was 14,” the article read, “he spent about three months in the Norfolk Detention Home for smacking an enemy classmate on the head with a shovel during a home economics project. In early 1992, Simpson served nine months in the Beaumont Learning Center for shooting into a moving car during a drug deal.”

In Chapel Hill, his crimes continued. Less than a month before murdering Kristin, police arrested Simpson for stealing a Honda. Instead of jail time, a judge released Simpson and ordered him to perform a few hours of community service.

Just like that—voila—he was back on the streets. A below-average student, he dropped out of summer school. The few acquaintances he made in school described him as a loner and wannabe gangster. He bragged about raping women and being a hitman. (Police later investigated those claims and said they never happened.) At some point, violent fantasies had become hardwired into Simpson’s psyche. Kristin’s murder was just a step up the ladder of rage.

Once caught, the teenager quickly confessed. Police were surprised he didn’t come from the “poor side of the tracks.” In fact, his mother was an officer in the United States Air Force. However, his father was long-gone and Simpson spent lots of time alone since his mother’s job took her away from home at times.

Four witnesses identified Simpson as the shooter. The Chapel Hill Herald reported “Simpson led police to an abandoned shed off Estes Road where he tossed the gun. [Cops] made the case stronger when [they] matched Simpson’s fingerprints with fingerprints on the six-shot ammunition clip found in the weapon used to kill the jogger.”


“The sign Thursday at an impromptu memorial for slain jogger Kristin Lodge-Miller asked ‘Where is the justice?’’’ So wrote the editors of the News and Observer after Anthony Georg Simpson’s trial ended with a verdict of second-degree murder. Citizens of Chapel Hill were outraged to learn Simpson could be eligible for parole after only ten years. Prosecutors had asked the jury to find him guilty of first-degree murder—he would have had to serve twenty years before being considered for parole if he had been convicted of the higher charge.

For weeks, newspapers had a hard time finding room to print the deluge of letters to the editors that complained about the verdict. One letter protested Simpson's sentence because he was “in the prime of his predatory years.” Women’s groups, rape crisis organizations, even high school students held vigils lamenting the decision. And letters from ordinary citizens kept coming. Even years later, an occasional letter arrived at some local newspaper denouncing the verdict.

Kristin’s murder had struck a chord.

One juror spoke anonymously to the press. He stated three jurors refused to vote for first-degree murder, thereby causing the group to go with the lesser charge. The three stated they were not convinced that Simpson’s intent was to rape Kristin. They also considered the fact that the victim pepper-sprayed her attacker. That, in the killer’s own words, angered him. The News and Observer wrote that “apparently, jurors agreed with the argument that Simpson became enraged after Lodge-Miller attempted to spray him with Mace when he approached during her early morning jog last July.” That, some of the jury seemed to believe, mitigated his crime.

In hindsight, citizens need not have worried about Simpson cheating the system and being released early. He seemed unable to comply with prison rules. Throughout his imprisonment, Simpson has racked up an amazing 47 infractions. These included such offenses as sexual crimes, drug infractions, fighting, possession of a weapon, disobeying orders, assault on an officer, assaulting staff with a weapon, and countless other violations. Because of this, Simpson has not been seriously considered for release.

After the verdict, Erik Miller wrote a letter to the people of Chapel Hill. In the note, he stated, “Our loss has been total and final. We know we cannot have Kristin back, and neither can this society. Kristin Ann Lodge-Miller was one of the few people who I can truly say positively affected society. She certainly had a positive effect on myself and my family. Her beauty was far beyond the physical and it is, indeed, a severe blow to all now that she is gone.” 

Random crimes always frighten people. They shatter what people perceive as order in the universe. Such cases always generate more publicity than most other crimes. This case was a prime example. 

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