Christopher Robin WORRELL
A.K.A.: "Truro murderer"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Bisexual
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: December 1976 - February 1977
Date of birth: 1954
Victims profile: Veronica Knight, 18 / Tania Kenny, 15 / Juliet Mykyta, 16 / Sylvia Pittman, 16 / Vickie Howell, 26 / Connie Iordanides, 16 / Deborah Lamb, 20
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Truro, South Australia, Australia
Status: Worrell and a female friend were killed in a car accident on February 19, 1977
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 "Truro Murders".
Police investigating 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 arrived.
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 list.
Miller was charge with four counts of murder, then the other three were added after further examination.
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 relief."
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 10pm.
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 Pairs
By Peter Haran - Sunday Mail
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 killing spree.
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 relationship.
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 between co-murderers?
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.
Bushwalkers later discovered the skeleton of 16-year-old Sylvia Pittman a kilometre from where Veronica had been buried.
Connecting serial 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 men.
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 Knight 18
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 16
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 6, 1977 Sylvia Pittman 16
Picked up as she waited for a train at the Adelaide Railway Station. They drove to the Wingfield area where Miller went for a walk and later helped dispose of the body at Truro.
February 7, 1977 Vickie Howell 26
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 12, 1977 Deborah Lamb 20
Deborah was hitchhiking on West Terrace when picked up. They drove to Port Gawler where Miller went for his walk. When he returned to the car Deborah was not there but worrell was pushing sand into a hole with his foot. Deborah was later found buried at the spot.
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 Chris died".
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 victim.
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 them off.
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 retrial.
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 68.
Christopher Robin Worrell and James William Miller: The Truro Murderers
by 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 Horrifying Discoveries
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 vanished.
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 investigations.
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 a newspaper.
“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 free man.
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 the court?”
Miller then said; “No. On second thoughts, maybe she’s done what I should do. Can I have a few minutes to think about it?”
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 Air Force.
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 three months.
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 around Adelaide.
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 girlfriend.
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 meant it.
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 wrong.
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 lift.
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 reprisal.
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 Adelaide.
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 seen.
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 grave.
“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 his intentions.”
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 traffic.
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 horrendous crimes.
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 either statement.
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 forward.
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 ally.”
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 partly clothed.
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.