Case File #0051
The Truro Murders
"A depraved and disgusting human being"
From 1978 to 1979 the remains of two young women were found in bushland near the Australian town of Truro. Police suspected the deaths were connected to the disappearances of five other women who vanished between December 1976 to February 1977. Despite a reward for information, the investigation stalled and there were no leads about the whereabouts of the missing women or the circumstances of those found dead. However, in May 1979 a young women collected the reward after providing detectives with information that lead to the arrest of 40-year-old James Miller, who would then recount for police a story of infatuation, psychosis and murder which claimed the lives of seven young women.
James William Miller was an habitual career criminal, having spent most of his 34 years in various prisons. Considered to be a loner with few friends and having left home at a young age with no formal education, he was sent to Magill Reform School at the age of 11. Into adulthood he began working as an itinerant labourer and over the following years, resorted to a life crime which resulted in over 30 convictions for a variety of misdemeanours, including breaking and entering, car theft, larceny and stealing.
In 1974 Miller was serving a three month sentence at Adeilaide Jail for breaking into a gun shop. It was the shortest custodial sentence he had ever served and there he met 20-year-old Christopher Robin Worrell, who was awaiting trial on a rape charge. Worrell was a dark-haired, slim and handsome young man and the homosexual Miller soon became infatuated. Worrell had been on a two year suspended sentence for armed robbery when he was arrested, and soon enough the two men became friends, eventually sharing a cell together.
Worrell would confide in Miller that he never knew his father, and his mother had married his step-father when he was only six years old. He also told him he had once served in the Australian Royal Air Force, but much of his past had remained clouded in mystery. At his rape trial, Worrell was described by the Judge as "a depraved and disgusting human being" who sentenced him to four years for breaching his suspended sentence. Both men were later transferred to Yatala Prison, where they were seperated into different cells, but remained close friends. When Miller was released after serving his three month term, he soon committed another crime to be reunited with Chris Worrell. He stole 4,000 pairs of sunglasses and was handed another 18 month sentence, which he served at Yatala.
Nine months after Miller was released, Worrell was granted early parole and regularly visited his friend who was living with his married sister and her two daughters. The two men soon made plans to move in together, and began renting a flat in Ovingham, an inner suburb of Adelaide. Miller became the passive partner in a dominant/submissive relationship, in which he would perform oral sex on Worrell whilst he read bondage magazines. However Worrell was strictly heterosexual, and the sexual side of the relationship eventually stopped and the two men became something akin to brothers.

Miller

Worrell

Worrell was prone to black moods which often tested their friendship, and Miller would find himself having to use all his patience to calm the situation. These moods would sometimes manifest into fits of rage over the slightest thing, and Worrell was showing worrying signs of psychotic behaviour which scared Miller. But he would do almost anything for his friend and they were soon working together for the Unley local council as part of a labouring gang. By now, 23-year-old Christopher Worrell was good-looking and popular with women, who were drawn to his charismatic charm and personable appearance, and although he had a girlfriend, Amelia, the two men would drive around in Miller's blue and white 1969 Valiant looking for women.
Worrell started to solicit girls and young women at bus stops and railways stations, and those who accepted his advances were driven to a secluded area where Miller would then go for a walk to leave Worrell alone with the girl. Because of his penchant for bondage, Worrell would often tie them up before having sex, then releasing them. Miller would then return when he thought they were finished and drive the girls back to town. This happened on numerous occasions and Worrell would always release the girls unharmed.
The Murder of Veronica Knight (23 December 1976)

This continued for some time until the evening of Thursday 23 December 1976 when Miller and Worrell drove around the Adelaide shopping malls which were busy due to the Christmas period with plenty of women buying last minute gifts. There Worrell decided to go for a walk, and instructed Miller to continue driving around the block of the city shopping centre. After some time, he drove back around and pulled up outside the Majestic Hotel to pick up Worrell, who was accompanied by 18-year-old Veronica Knight.
Knight had become separated from her friends whilst shopping at the City Cross Arcade and the two men offered her a lift home, which she accepted. Along the way, Worrell chatted to the young woman and introduced himself, and she told him she lived at the Salvation Army Hostel in Angas Street. Worrell then persuaded her to go for a drive with them into the Adelaide Foothills, promising to take her home afterwards. When they arrived, Miller left the two and went for a walk and when he left Worrell forced Knight into the back seat.
When he returned half an hour later, Miller saw Worrell sitting in the front seat with the girl lying motionless in the back of the car. Worrell then confessed he had raped and murdered the girl. Shocked, Miller angrily confronted him, grabbing him by the shirt and shouting, "You fool, you fucking fool!, do you want to ruin everything?." Worrell then produced a long wooden handled knife and held it to Miller's throat, telling him he would kill him too if he didn't let him go. Believing his friend meant his threat, Miller released him and the two men got into the car and left. Worrell directed him to drive through Gawler towards Truro and down a dirt track known as Swamp Road. They pulled over near a wooded area and Worrell asked Miller to help him move the girls body.
When he resisted, Worrell threatened him with the knife again and they carried the body through a fence, placing it on the ground. Miller noticed Knight's hands were tied, something Worrell liked to do to the women he picked up. They attempted to conceal the body by placing leaves and branches over it and then began the long drive back to Adelaide. During the journey Worrell said nothing, he was in one of his black moods. The next day both men planned to returned to work and Worrell was back to his usual self, acting as though nothing had happened and so Miller decided to talk about the events of the previous night. He asked him if he had ever done that sort of thing before, and Worrell said he had.
He confessed to murdering two hitchhiker's when he travelled from Perth to Adelaide during his time with the airforce. He said he stabbed one with a knife and it got very messy, with blood spurting everywhere and the other he killed by smashing her head with a rock. He also claimed to have witnessed a friend drown, whilst he watched and did nothing to help. Over the festive period Miller feared the possible violent reaction from Worrell if he raised the subject again and decided to keep quiet.

Veronica Knight

Tania Kenny

The Murder of Tania Kenny (2 January 1977)

On 2 January 1977, Worrell had Miller drop him off at the Rundle Mall around 9am and told him to pick him up at the other end. After waiting a short while, he returned with 15-year-old Tania Kenny, whom Worrell had chatted up in the street. Once in Miller's car, Kenny told them she had just hitchhiked up from Victor Harbour. Worrell instructed Miller to drive to his sister's home on the pretext of picking up some clothes. After Miller checked no-one was home, Worrell took the girl inside whilst he waited in the car. After some time had passed, Worrell emerged from the house with an alarmed expression on his face, and asked Miller to come inside. Sensing something was wrong, Miller found Kenny bound and gagged in the children's playroom. She was still fully clothed, and had been strangled.
As before, Miller became outraged at what he saw and Worrell threatened to kill him if he refused to help dispose of the body. Unsure of what to do and worried his sister would be implicated in the crime, Miller helped Worrell place the corpse in a cupboard and drove out to prepare a grave site. Returning later that same evening, they moved the body to the car and drove out to Wingfield, where they buried her body in a shallow grave at the back of Dean Rifle Range. During the journey home, Miller broached the subject of what just happened and suggested Worrell should see a doctor to try and find out the reason why he was committing the murders.
Worrell responded bluntly, "Mind your own business!". Miller didn't press the issue anymore, his friendship with Worrell was too important to him. After this second murder, Worrell and Miller continued to pick up girls most evenings from various places such as the Rundle Mall, Adelaide Railways Station and several different hotels around the city. Worrell would chat up the young girls, and Miller would drive them around, park up and leave so Worrell could tie them up and have sex. But these women were let go and left alive for some unknown reason.
The Murder of Juliet Mykyta (21 January 1977)

Towards the end of the month on 21 January, Worrell met 16-year-old Juliet Mykyta at the Ambassador's Hotel in King William Street. Miller had driven to the steps of the hotel at around 9pm and they found her sitting there waiting for a bus. She accepted their offer of a lift and told them she had telephoned her parents to let them know she would be late returning home so they wouldn't worry. They drove her to an area they often used to take women, at a secluded spot along Port Wakefield Road. Worrell forced the girl into the back seat and began to tie her up. She started to resist but he was too strong, and Miller sat in the front seat until finally getting out to go for a walk.
Not far from the car, he heard voices and looked to see Juliet falling out of the car and onto the ground. It looked as though she had been kicked in the stomach and Worrell then stood over her, rolled her onto her back with his foot and then strangled her with some rope. Miller came over and grabbed Worrell's arm and attempted to drag him off the girl but he pushed him away and once again threatened to kill him if he tried to interfere again. Miller walked off, and when he came back Worrell had already put the body in the car. He noticed Worrell was in another of his moods and acquiesced to his demands without a fight, driving them to Truro where they could dump the body. They decided to use a different location this time and went to a deserted farmhouse away from Swamp Road. They carried Mykyta's fully clothed body out into a forested area and covered it with branches and leaves, then drove back to Adelaide.

Juliet Mykyta

Sylvia Pittmann

The Murder of Sylvia Pittmann (6 February 1977)

The following month on 06 February, Worrell chatted up 16-year-old Sylvia Pittmann as she waited for a train at Adelaide Station and she accepted his offer of a lift. Miller drove them out to the Windang area and Worrell told him to go for a walk. After half an hour he returned and found Pittmann lying face down in the back of the car, strangled with her own pantyhose. Miller attempted to talk to Worrell but he refused, and Miller could see he had lapsed into another dark mood which he always fell into after committing a murder. Sylvia wasn't tied or gagged and her body was fully clothed and covered with a rug. Worrell instructed him to drive to Truro where they removed the body and hid it under some branches and leaves, then headed back to Adelaide.
The Murder of Vickie Howell (7 February 1977)

The next day, Miller picked Worrell up at the Adelaide Post Office building around 7pm, along with a woman Worrell had met. 26-year-old Vicki Howell was older than any of the other girls Worrell had chatted up so far and during the journey Miller had taken a liking to her, and hoped he wouldn't kill her like he had the others. During the journey Worrell had Miller stop the car so she could use the toilet at Nuriootpa, and several miles further down the road he stopped the car and went for his customary walk. However because of his liking for Vicki Howell, he returned after several minutes to check on the girl, telling Worrell he had forgotten his cigarettes. Assuming Worrell wouldn't kill her because he wasn't having one of his moods, Miller walked away again. When enough time had passed, he walked back and found Worrell kneeling on the front seat, leaning into the back of the car. He was covering Vicki's body with a blanket after strangling her.
Miller could not contain his anger, and cursed Worrell for murdering her. He screamed at him that it wasn't necessary and he could have just talked to her and let her go. Eventually Miller asked why he killed her and then went quiet, unsure if Worrell would kill him. He gave no reply, instead telling Miller to drive the body to Truro. They drove out to dump the body under foliage and then returned to Adelaide. Miller was now worried every time he and Worrell went out looking for girls, if it would end up with another murder.

Vickie Howell

Connie Iordanides

The Murder of Connie Iordanides (9 February 1977)

On 09 February, just two days after the murder of Vicki Howell, Worrell and Miller were driving around the city centre when they saw 16-year-old Connie Iordanides near the footpath. She was laughing to herself and Worrell ordered Miller to turn around so he could approach her. They offered her a lift and she accepted, sitting in-between both men in the front seat. However, when they began to drive in the opposite direction of her house and stopped at the secluded Wingfield area, she became frightened and Worrell forced the screaming girl into the back seat. Miller was too scared to do anything and he got out for a walk. When he returned, the girl had been strangled to death and Worrell was covering her fully clothed body with a blanket. Worrell was in one of his bad moods and Miller said nothing this time, and just did as he was told, driving the body out to Truro where it was dumped under some bushes. That evening they slept in the car at the Victoria Park Racecourse, and nothing was said about the murder.
The Murder of Deborah Lamb (12 February 1977)

Three days later Worrell would commit his fourth murder in the space of a week. On 12 February 1977, whilst cruising close to the City Bowl on West Terrace, they picked up 20-year-old Deborah Lamb, who was hitchhiking. Worrell enticed the girl into their car and suggested they drive to Port Gawler and Lamb accepted. When they reached their destination, Miller went for his usual walk to give Worrell time alone with the girl, hoping he would spare her life. But when he returned he found Worrell near the car pushing sand into a hole with his foot. Deborah Lamb had vanished and Miller surmised that Worrell had strangled the girl and buried her body.

Deborah Lamb

Deborah Skuse

During their time living and working together, Miller and Worrell had become friendly with Debbie Skuse after first visiting her boyfriend who they knew from their time in jail. When they discovered her boyfriend had walked out on her, they decided to take Debbie on a trip to Mount Gambier for the weekend. However, they returned to Adelaide early on Saturday, 19 February 1977 because Worrell had fallen into one of his dark moods. On the return journey Worrell had been drinking at the wheel and driving dangerously through the countryside north of Millicent.
Debbie started to become worried about how erratic Worrell was driving and begged and screamed for him to slow down. He then became angry, telling her to shut up. Then he yelled, "We've got a blow out!" and suddenly lost control of the car, which veered onto the other side of the road into oncoming traffic. In order to avoid a head-on collision, Worrell steered Miller's Valiant off the side of the road and it flipped over several times throwing all three passengers onto the grass.
Several witnesses to the accident rushed over to help, but Debbie Skuse and Chris Worrell were killed instantly, whilst James Miller suffered a broken shoulder blade. Miller was distraught, he had lost his only friend and the only person who had meant anything to him in the world. He was taken to hospital suffering from shock. At the funeral, Miller approached Worrell's girlfriend Amelia, who despite only dating Worrell for a short time, was deeply upset by his death. She revealed to Miller that Worrell had been suffering from a suspected blood clot on his brain. Miller then confessed that Worrell had been murdering young girls, and it might have been the reason for his dark moods and why he committed such terrible crimes. Now suffering from severe depression, Miller began a transient lifestyle, sleeping rough in abandoned cars and sometimes at the Central Mission Day Centre, where he could get a decent meal.
On 25 April 1978, William and Valda Thomas were mushrooming in bushland beside Swamp Road near the town of Truro when they spotted what they thought was the bone from a cow. However, when they decided to return to the site two days later and made a closer inspection, they found the bone had a shoe attached and inside was human skin and painted toenails. They contacted the police who began a search of the area which uncovered blood stained clothing and more bones. Police were able to identify the bones as belonging to 18-year-old Veronica Knight, who went missing just before Christmas 1976. Despite the find, detectives did not immediately suspect foul play and assumed Veronica had gotten lost and died of thirst.
A year later, on 15 April 1979, more skeletal remains were discovered roughly 1km from where Veronica's body was located. These bones were found to belong to 16-year-old Sylvia Pittmann, who went missing 06 February 1947, around the same time as other young girls and women who vanished and police suspected there might be a link between the cases. These suspicions were strengthened eleven days later when a large search party discovered the skeletal remains of two more women in a paddock on the opposite side of Swamp Road. These remains were positively identified as those of Connie Iordanides and Vicki Howell, who were two of the five missing girls. Police placed a A$30,000 reward for any information regarding the missing women and those who's bodies were found at Truro.
Chris Worrell's girlfriend, Amelia, decided to come forward and tell the police about James Miller's confession at the funeral. She contacted detectives using the name Angela, and told them she had had not said anything before because Worrell was dead, but decided to come forward after reading newspaper reports about the girls bodies that were found the previous month, realising Miller had been telling the truth. In her statement she said Miller told her about the murders committed by Chris Worrell, saying they had to be killed so they couldn't point the finger at Chris, and the victims, "were only rags and weren't worth much".
He said his role in the crimes were as an accomplice saying, "I did the driving and went along to make sure that nothing went wrong". Once she provided this information, she collected the reward money and police decided to find this James Miller. He was located working jobs for Adelaide's Central Mission and in return received bed and food at the centre. He was placed under surveillance by eight plain-clothed detectives who worked round the clock to keep tabs on him and once he realised he was being monitored, he decided to make a run for it and they arrested him.

Miller

The investigation was headed by Detective Sergeant Glen Lawrie and Detective Peter Foster from the Major Crime Squad. They knew they had very little evidence to connect James Miller to the crimes and needed a full confession or he could walk free. All they had was the witness statement from Amelia, and when they interviewed him at Angas Street Police Headquarters he denied knowing Amelia and gave vague and false replied to any questions. When Miller was told of the statement, he strenuously denied making such comments to Amelia. In response Amelia's statement and the A$30,000 reward money, Miller replied, "Maybe she's short of money?", and Detective Lawrie replied, "Do you really believe that? Is that what you want me to tell the court?" He initially denied knowing anything about the murders, but after six hours of interrogation he eventually admitted to detectives he had been involved, but never murdered anyone.
He 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 made a full confession about his role in the murders, telling Lawrie and Foster, "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." When Lawrie expressed his understanding of the situation and how Miller was hopelessly in love with Worrell, Miller believed the detective understood he had no part in the murders. He then said there were three more victims still unaccounted for and offered to show police where they were.

Miller under guard

Crime scene

He was driven under armed guard to Wingfield, Port Gawler and Truro where he pointed out the locations where the bodies were dumped. Detectives then found and retrieved the bodies of 15-year-old Tania Kenny, 16-year-old Juliet Mykyta and 20-year-old Deborah Lamb. Miller said Amelia had done what he should have a long time ago and police admitted the murders would have remained unsolved had she not came forward with information. Miller was arrested and charged with seven counts of murder in relation to the young girls who were found dead, and suspected of being an accessory to murder along with the deceased Christopher Worrell.
At his trial, the Crown prosecutor Mr. Jennings claimed that both men had lived and worked together and believed the murders were part of a joint enterprise between Miller and Worrell, with both having their part to play in the girls deaths. He also presented the victims lives and their cruel deaths to the jury. Julia Mykyta was a student at Marsden High School and had recently began a job selling jewellery from a stall in the city during the holidays. Vicki Howell had recently been separated from her husband before she met the two men and forensic evidence seemed to indicate the last victim Deborah Lamb was buried alive by Worrell. Miller gave his testimony of what happened during the fateful few weeks of murder and mayhem which cost the lives of seven women.
He told the court how he met Christopher Worrell, and how their relationship had changed from sexual in nature to one of brotherly friendship. He described how they would cruise the streets every night looking for women Worrell could have sex with. Worrell was young, good-looking and charismatic and had no trouble chatting up young girls before having sex with them. He then began raping those who resisted his advances and then started murdering them. Miller said he became increasingly fearful of Worrell's state of mind as well as his escalating violence, which he experienced first-hand when he attempted to stop some of the murders.

Christoper Worrell

He went on to describe in detail the events which preceded each of the murders and then described the gruesome details of the murders themselves, which he denied having participated in, during which Worrell would always tie the girls up because it was his kink and turned him on, before he strangled them to death. In his defence, Miller strenuously pointed out time and again, he had never had a conviction for violence or a sexual offence and had no interest in the women because he was gay.
He had not committed any serious crime and although he regretted his handling of the situation, he was not a murderer and his reason for not reporting the crimes was because his only concern was his friendship with Worrell. Before the murders began, he described his time living and working with Worrell as the happiest years of his life. Worrell was the only friend he had ever had, and was the one thing that mattered in his life. The jury would consider these statements when they determined if Miller was guilty of murder.
After some deliberation, on 12 March 1980, the jury found James Miller guilty of six of the seven murders, the exception being that of Veronica Knight. Despite having no direct involvement in the killings, he was found to be present at the crime scenes and assisted in disposing of the bodies and was sentenced by Mr. Justice Matheson to the maximum of six consecutive terms of life imprisonment. As he was led from the court, Miller shouted to Detective Sergeant Lawrie, "You filthy liar, Lawrie... you mongrel". One of the trial jurors hired a lawyer to petition the Attorney-General for a retrial and South Australian Chief Justice Len King agreed after it became known that the Judge at hs trial, Mr. Justice Matheson, had instructed the jury to find Miller guilty of murder. Chris Sumner, the Attorney-General refused to grant a re-trial.
From Yatala prison, Miller maintained his innocence, telling reporters, "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". In June and July 1984, Miller began a hunger strike in prison over his sentence which was stopped after 43-days, after which he was interviewed and gave a damning statement which didn't help his claims of innocence when he said, "Chris Worrell was my best friend in the world, if he had lived, maybe 70 would have been killed. And I wouldn't have ever dobbed him in."
In late 1999 he applied to for a non-parole period to be set under new laws so he could once day be released, however on 08 February 2000, Chief Justice John Doyle of the South Australian Supreme Court granted Miller a non-parole period of 35 years which would start from the date of his arrest. This meant he would be eligible for parole by 2014 when he is 74-years-old. James Miller died from cancer whilst still serving his prison sentence on 21 October 2008.