PHOENIX — DNA evidence led to the arrest of a man in the 20-year-old killings of two young women who vanished 10 months apart on bike rides near Phoenix's canal system, authorities said Wednesday.
Police arrested Bryan Patrick Miller, 42, late Tuesday in the stabbing deaths of 22-year-old Angela Brosso and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas.
Brosso was killed in November 1992, and Bernas died in September 1993. Both disappeared while bicycling near the Arizona Canal. Brosso's decapitated body was found near an apartment complex, while Bernas' body was discovered about 1.5 miles away floating in the water.
The killings gripped area residents, particularly after Bernas' death, but the case faded from public attention as no arrest was made.
Forensic evidence connected the killings within years, but investigators couldn't identify a suspect. However, DNA evidence recently collected by undercover officers linked Miller to the killings, police said.
"Within literally hours we had a hit from those two murders, scientifically linking him by DNA, linking him to those two murders over 20 years ago," said Sgt. Trent Crump, a police spokesman.
Officers searched his rental home overnight, and the search was expected to continue for several days because the home was full of unspecified material. Details were not immediately available, and police did not immediately return a call.
Miller was being held without bond on two counts of first-degree murder and of kidnapping and one count of sexual assault.
Miller did not have a lawyer when he appeared in court Wednesday, but police said Miller during an interview denied any involvement in the killings.
"The defendant could not explain how the DNA profile obtained from the defendant was a match to the DNA profiles obtained from the victims," police said in a court document.
The document also said Miller acknowledged living in the vicinity of the killings at the time and said he rode his bike on bike paths in the area.
Police had said previously, before Miller's arrest, that the manner of the killings indicated the killer had specialized training in the military and that he collected "trophies" from the victims.
Neither victim's bicycle was found.
A bike was found in a shed in Miller's backyard but Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman, said it wasn't immediately clear if it belonged to either victim.
Police said they believed Miller moved to Washington state after the deaths but later returned to Arizona.
Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner said Phoenix police are working with authorities in Washington state to see if Miller's DNA could possibly be linked to other crimes.