The remains of a long-missing woman from Pennsylvania may be contained in a three-ton concrete slab found in a duplex, police say.
The concrete slab contained woodchips as well, according to Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller, which is a clue that may prove that the woman’s body could have been run through a woodchipper and later entombed in concrete, Fox News reported.
Although at this point it remains “mere speculation if a woodchipper was or wasn’t used. Obviously the presence of woodchips in a concrete wall is highly suspicious,” Miller said, according to Fox.
A forensic pathologist is currently examining the slab, chiseling away at the walls piece by piece in search of clues, Miller added.
Barbara Elizabeth Miller, then 30, may have been murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Mike Egan, a former Sunbury police officer, investigators believe.
Egan has been the primary suspect in the case since the young mother went missing in 1989. She was last seen putting flowers into her car after a wedding. She had fought with Egan the night before about going to the wedding without him.
Egan said he had nothing to do with Miller’s disappearance.
Police received tips that over the years, Egan would drive by his sister’s home in Milton, Pennsylvania, to “visit” his “old lady.” That home is where police recovered the concrete slab.
Egan is now 59. He reported Miller missing five days after she was last seen.
Miller had been a police informant for drug trafficking. Shortly before she disappeared, she had given police threatening letters she received from people warning her to stop talking to police.
According to the police affidavit, Miller complained to friends about Egan during the months before her disappearance, and just days before, she told friends that she feared for her life.
Eddie Miller Jr., Barbara Miller’s son, who was 13 at the time, said that he noticed that the wheels of his mother’s car had yellow clay on them when he drove it on the morning after her disappearance. He believed at the time that the clay was related to concrete work.
A judge declared Barbara Miller dead 17 years later.
Police received several reports throughout the years that could have led them to the home in Milton, but the reports were not pursued.
The new owners of the home in Milton let police inside to examine the basement. Investigators found a “highly suspicious construction” inside. A concrete floor was added on with portions that appeared to be made of handmade concrete.
One small room in the basement was “very peculiar” according to the affidavit, with thick concrete walls and an exhaust fan.
Investigators said the room did not exist prior to 1989, but have not yet been able to pinpoint when it was constructed, according to PennLive.
Egan’s sister, Cathy Reitenbach, owned the home in 1989. An informant once told police that a close friend of Reitenbach, Harry Catherman, once told someone that they would “end up just like Barbara Miller did in Cathy’s basement,” if they did not pay a drug debt.
Catherman hung up when he was contacted for a comment.
In early June, investigators brought several cadaver-smelling dogs to the property. Each dog separately alerted the handlers that human remains are present in the basement or material removed from there.
It took police a week of digging to remove the 3-ton slab from the basement. After the slab was extracted, investigators discovered woodchips within and made the announcement last week.
Investigators also found a metal barrel from a pond near Miller’s former home, but have kept quiet about what they found inside.