Police Explore Penny Doe Cold Case Link with Missing Barbara Miller: DNA Could Provide Link

| June 2, 2018

CLARION CO., Pa. (EYT) – She was found only with two pennies in her pockets when her body was discovered in the muddy waters of a streambed in Monroe Township, Clarion County, in 1990, but a DNA match could connect “Penny Doe” with another cold case in the 1989 disappearance of a Sunbury woman, Barbara E. Miller.

Pictured above: missing Barbara Miller.

Sunbury Police Chief Timothy S. Miller believes Barbara Miller’s disappearance, a body has never been found, is linked to a drug-related execution-style homicide, according to May 16 news article Penn-Live.com.

Police Chief Miller believes Barbara (no relation) was killed because she had information related to the 1986 murder of Ricky D. Wolfe.

Chief Miller reopened the Barbara Miller cold case last year.

Reconstructed face of Penny Doe.

Reconstructed face of Penny Doe.

Skeletal remains of Penny Doe from 1990 may be linked to the disappearance of Barbara Miller, according to NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) Regional Director Amy Dobbs.

Dobbs said she saw coverage of the Barbara Miller case and entered her information into the NamUs computer system and came back with a four out of a five-star match, according to a Thursday news article by Francis Scarcella in The Daily Notes that serves the Central Susquehanna Valley.

“It does not mean it is Barbara Miller,” Dobbs said while co-hosting a NamUs event in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. “It means that when I entered the limited information, we had a potential match.”

Dobbs said Barbara Miller’s DNA was submitted for testing, and the results are pending. Dobbs and Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller would not say when DNA results are expected.

“We cannot make any positive identifications until we receive results from testing,” she said. “I have seen cases where there was a high potential for a match, and it turned out it was not. Once we have the results whether it is or it is not her we at least now have her entered into the system.”

Miller was 30 when she disappeared.

Penny Doe

Identity unknown, the body found in Monroe Township was quickly nicknamed Penny Doe because of the penny in her pockets after the investigation started.

On Friday, July 22, 1990, two children were hunting for berries in a remote area of Monroe Township, about three miles south of I-80 near Reidsburg. As they were crossing under a railroad trestle, they saw what they thought was a deer lying in a streambed. As they got closer, they found that it was a body, lying face down in the muddy water.

An autopsy showed that she had suffered blunt force trauma to the right side of her skull. It also revealed that her right leg was broken.

Authorities did not believe that she was from the local area or Clarion County, but they did think it was likely that her killer was local because of the remote location where she was found, and the nearby road is lightly traveled. However, there are railroad tracks nearby, so it is possible that the killer may have followed the tracks and found the area by chance.

Estimates on Penny’s age ranged between 15 and 22, although some sources reported her as old as 40.  She had very healthy teeth and had one baby tooth still in place on her top set of teeth.  She wore no bra, socks or shoes, or the killer may have taken them.

Police also explored a lead that she may have attended a Memorial Day Concert on May 27 at Music Alley near St. Petersburg and somehow ended up in Monroe Township.

In the summer of 2002, authorities received an anonymous letter about the girl around the time investigators in Northumberland County reopened the Barbara Miller case. Law enforcement put out a plea, asking the author of the letter to contact them again, but the writer never responded.

Sunbury Police also received an anonymous letter two weeks ago from an individual claiming to know that the Barbara Miller case was tied to Wolfe’s killing.

Dobbs said the similarities between the remains and the Miller case piqued her interest, so she reached out to the Sunbury chief.

Experts estimated Penny died four to eight weeks before her discovery on that summer day. While police gained a lot of information about the deceased woman, her identity was never established and remains a cold case to this day.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Clarion County Coroner’s Office at 814-275-1773 or the Pennsylvania State Police Troop C-Clarion Criminal Investigations Unit at 814-226-1710.

The DNA results have not yet been received, but it could be one way for Penny Doe to finally add her own two cents to bring closure tow two cold cases.


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