A 32-year-old man from southeastern Minnesota killed a friend with a blow to the head and then set his victim’s home ablaze during a self-described “rage-induced drug coma,” according to charges.
Steven E. Miller was charged Tuesday in Winona County District Court with second-degree murder and first-degree arson in connection with the death of 55-year-old David John Seaman in late March.
Miller, of Winona, remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bail and is due back in court on Sept. 4. He’s been held since a day after the blaze on charges of residential burglary and indecent exposure.
According to the murder and arson charges:
About 4 a.m. on March 25, fire personnel entered the burning duplex on 8th Street in Winona and found Seaman’s body inside. An autopsy discovered cuts to his head and numerous facial and skull fractures. There was no evidence of smoke inhalation, indicating he died before the fire began.
Fire investigators found that flames had originated in two places in the home, leading authorities to consider this a case of arson.
A camp stove fuel container left in the home was traced to a Walmart in Winona, and store video surveillance showed Miller buying the fuel a day before the fire.
Under law enforcement questioning a week later, Miller said he used to live with Seaman and said he had not seen him since last year.
In late May, Miller told authorities that he was high on methamphetamine and psychedelic mushrooms when he started the fire.
He said he considered Seaman a friend, wasn’t angry with him and had no explanation for starting the fire. Miller did say Seaman disapproved of him getting high and then hit him with a hammer.
“He was a good person,” the complaint quoted Miller as telling law enforcement. “It was a rage-induced drug coma … but I don’t understand it myself, why.”
Seaman was known around Winona as an environmental activist who participated in river cleanups and other activities, according to his online obituary.
“He was a beautiful spirit and was always willing to help out wherever needed,” the obituary read.