Reporter, Chief Put Spotlight on Cold Case

MILTON -- A cold case investigation in Northumberland County is wide open again, and authorities are back at the scene for a second week.

A newspaper reporter who works in Sunbury started writing about the Barbara Miller case eight years ago and has been writing about it frequently for about three years. When Tim Miller became Sunbury's police chief last year, the two worked together to bring attention to this case.

Crews were digging at a house in Milton again on Monday, looking for the remains of former Sunbury resident Barbara Miller.

Miller disappeared in July of 1989 and her body was never found. Last month, Sunbury police got a tip that Miller's body was entombed inside the walls of a house in Milton.

"People really want this case solved. It's just overwhelming the amount of people who have information who are coming forward," said Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller.

Francis Scarcella is a reporter with The Daily Item newspaper in Sunbury. He frequently writes stories about this case and asked Chief Miller to reopen it.

"I met with the family and I found it to be a very sad situation for the family, so I decided to continuously push," Scarcella said.

"It was every single day, 'Did you look at those binders yet? Did you look at those binders yet?'" said Chief Miller.

"Every single day, and I just kept asking and asking and asking to open the case and look at it," Scarcella said.

When Chief Miller--who is not related to Barbara Miller--looked into the 28-year-old cold case, he became interested. He credits Scarcella.

"The amount of concern he showed for this case and for this family, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here. That's the honest to God truth. And this is one case where the media's persistence has ignited a fire," said Miller.

Scarcella helped shine the spotlight back on this case, but he does not want any credit for it.

"It's not about the media. It's about a family who wants to get answers," said Scarcella.

Investigators plan to come back to continue digging at the home on Tuesday.

1 Comment

  • Bill K

    I’m wondering why Chief Miller didn’t pursue the unsolved murders in Williamsport with this much vigor. He was chief of police in Williamsport for I don’t know how many years.

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