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DALLAS — A disabled 78-year-old church deacon living quietly in East Texas was arrested Monday by federal agents who said he committed a murder 33 years ago and 1,300 miles away.
Authorities say Joseph Lewis Miller fled Pennsylvania after shooting a man in a parking lot outside a hotel in 1981. He was charged with murder and three other felonies, but the case remained unsolved for three decades until investigators translated a previous tip that Miller had been living in Mexico under an alias — the name of a deceased cousin.
The U.S. Marshals Service in Harrisburg, Pa., traced that name to rural Mineola, Texas, a town of 4,500 people. Miller confessed to the shooting shortly after his arrest, authorities said.
People in Mineola knew Miller as Roy Eubanks, a former employee of the local paper plant who was collecting disability checks and walked with a cane. He married at least twice in Texas, most recently in 2010. His wife told The Associated Press on Monday that he had said he killed someone in "the accident that happened" many years ago.
According to U.S. Marshals, Miller was charged in the 1981 death of Thomas Waller in Harrisburg, Pa. The Patriot-News reported that Waller was found inside his car with a gunshot wound to his head. That was the second time Miller was accused of murder. He pleaded guilty in 1959 to killing a Harrisburg man and was given life in prison — a sentence commuted in 1971 by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer.
A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons said the agency could not immediately produce the records related to Miller's 1971 commutation Monday.
It remains unclear how Miller got from Pennsylvania to Texas, or why he chose the town of Mineola, about 85 miles east of Dallas.
He also was a deacon at a local Baptist church, the U.S. Marshals said.
He was being held in the Wood County Jail pending court proceedings that would lead to his return to Pennsylvania.
Miller's relatives could not be immediately located, nor could Waller's family.