D.C. police are seeking help from the public in their investigation into the July 21 murder of a gay man who was found shot to death in an alley behind the 1600 block of Minnesota Avenue, S.E. and whose car was reported missing at the time of the murder.
Police said in a statement that officers from the Seventh District found D.C. resident Michael Miller, 37, unconscious and showing no signs of life after the officers responded to a call to the scene about 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 21.
Three residents of the Matthews Memorial Terrace Apartments at 2632 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E., where Miller lived, said Miller was well-known as being gay among his neighbors in the building and was well liked by everyone who knew him.
“We’re all devastated by this,” said one of the residents, who asked not to be identified.
The police statement announcing Miller’s death did not disclose that he was gay. When asked by the Washington Blade whether homicide detectives have obtained information indicating whether Miller might have been targeted because of his sexual orientation, a police spokesperson declined to comment.
“There is no further information to provide as this case remains under investigation,” said spokesperson Alaina Gertz, a public affairs specialist with the department’s Office of Communications.
D.C. police officials have said in the past that under a longstanding policy the department doesn’t disclose the sexual orientation or gender identity of crime victims unless investigators have evidence indicating the victim was specifically targeted because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
Miller’s case is the second known murder of a gay person this year in the D.C. metropolitan area. Sean Anderson, 48, was shot to death on March 2 inside his Anacostia apartment by a man he invited home, according to police charging documents. Southeast D.C. resident Jerome Wilson, 35, has been charged with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Anderson’s death.
The police statement on the Miller case says the department is offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Miller’s death.
“Upon arrival, members located an adult male victim, in an alley, suffering from a gunshot wound,” the statement says. “D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene. The victim displayed no signs consistent with life and remained on the scene until being transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” the statement says.
The statement adds that in addition to seeking information to help identify one or more perpetrators in the case, detectives from the department’s Homicide Branch are asking for assistance from the public in locating Miller’s car. The vehicle is described as a 2007 dark gray Lexus IS 250 four-door sedan, which was reported missing at the time police learned of the murder.
Police said the vehicle’s license plate is FN 2337.
A separate police report of the incident says that upon arrival on the scene officers observed Miller was “suffering from apparent gunshot wounds to the right side of the neck.”
The three residents of the apartment building where Miller lived said they don’t know why Miller apparently drove to the area of the 1600 block of Minnesota Avenue, S.E., where his body was found. They speculated that he could have been shot someplace else and taken to the alley.
The police report says Miller was found unconscious in the alley directly behind a house at 1605 Minnesota Ave., S.E. Police have not disclosed whether homicide detectives working on the case talked to nearby residents to find out if they heard the sound of one or more gunshots shortly before the body was found.
Barbara Clark, a member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A whose single member district includes the alley where Miller’s body was found, said she was not aware of any problems or crime related issues associated with that alley.
“I have not gotten any complaints about that alley,” she told the Blade.
Miller’s apartment building neighbors who spoke to the Blade said a memorial service in honor of Miller’s life was held Aug. 2 at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, which is located next to the apartment building.
A printed program for the memorial service includes a short obituary that says Miller graduated from Ballou Senior High School. It says he worked for more than 10 years as a contractor for the U.S. Department of the Treasury before retiring after suffering permanent nerve damage from a work-related accident.
The obituary says he diligently cared for his mother, Linda Miller, in the years prior to her passing. He is survived, among others, by two sisters and a brother and his beloved dog, Bear, the obituary says.
Anyone with information about this case or the whereabouts of Miller’s missing car is asked to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.