Local News

Miller arsenic death to be featured on '48 Hours Mystery'

Posted March 13, 2009
Updated March 15, 2009

— A UNC pediatric AIDS researcher's poisoning death that went unsolved for years before Raleigh police charged his wife with murder is the focus of an upcoming TV segment on CBS News' "48 Hours Mystery."

Ann Miller Kontz pleaded guilty in November 2005 to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, acknowledging she poisoned her then-husband, Eric Miller, with arsenic before his death on Dec. 2, 2000.

The story, "Toxic," will air Saturday at 10 p.m. on WRAL-TV and will feature interviews with Miller's family and the lead detective in the case. The full episode will be posted on CBS News' Web site.

Troy Roberts '48 Hours' to feature Miller case

WRAL News reporter Amanda Lamb also documented the case in her book, "Deadly Dose." Released last year, it chronicles investigators' nearly four-year pursuit of Kontz, a former chemist and researcher at GlaxoSmithKline.

Initially, police did not identify Kontz as a suspect, but they eventually discovered an alleged romantic relationship she had with a co-worker, Derril Willard. Willard refused to talk with investigators and committed suicide on Jan. 22, 2001.

In May 2004, after a lengthy legal battle over attorney-client privilege, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered Willard's attorney to divulge information to investigators that Willard had told him about Miller's death – that Kontz injected poison in Miller's IV line during a hospital visit.

Kontz, remarried and living in Wilmington with her and Miller's daughter, was indicted in September 2004.

"I think the most compelling thing about the story was that Ann Miller was an educated, regular person," said Lamb, who served as a consulting producer for the "48 Hours Mystery" piece.

"She is the kind of person who might live in your neighborhood or work in your office – not someone you would typically peg as a murderer. That's why so many people can relate to this story."

Kontz is now serving a 25-year prison sentence at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. Her projected release date is September 2029.

Miller's parents share custody of their granddaughter with Kontz's sister and brother-in-law. A judge has denied Kontz any visitation rights with the child.


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  • St Ives Mar 13, 2009

    If I remember correctly the testimony of her ex boyfriend's attorney would have been in question on appeal and the reason she got 25 years was because the DA felt it would be better than having to go to trial without the testimony of the attorney of her ex boyfriend who killed himself.

  • LaLa-Land Mar 13, 2009

    "I think the most compelling thing about the story was that Ann Miller was an educated, regular person,"

    What a snobbish this to say. Regular people commit crimes all the time.

  • colliedave Mar 13, 2009

    I think the most compelling thing about the story was that Ann Miller was an educated, regular person," said Lamb, who served as a consulting producer for the "48 Hours Mystery" piece.

    And education and being a "regular person" prevents someone from doing dastardly deeds? Ted Bundy who was a serial killer graduation from Florida State's law school and could have appeared on the cover of GQ. Except for the grace of God, all of us are capable of great evil.

  • kikinc Mar 13, 2009

    anastasia, you are correct. Arsenic poisoning mimic the symptoms of many other ailments, especially those of the stomach. It is not tested for in traditional tox screens. It needs a special test that is normally ordered when there is evidence of arsenic being available. The length of the poisoning can be determined by the hair since it is know how long the hair grows in a given time.

  • IzzMad2016 Mar 13, 2009

    Trivr : There was also a story about him getting sick during an outing at a bowling alley that Derril Willard was at -- the story said he bought a beer for Miller and he wound up in the hospital again after drinking it.

  • IzzMad2016 Mar 13, 2009

    Yes, it was on Snapped. So sad. She couldn't just get a divorce, she had to kill the guy. Such a horrible and selfish thing to do to their daughter.

  • nonemeant Mar 13, 2009

    Sad so horribly sad. This woman is responsible directly and indirectly for the death of two men. I wonder why the guy committed suicide. Guilty conscience? He should have known that God is a forgiving God. He left his family hurting.
    To have continued that charade for all those years and to remarry and think she would never have to answer for her crimes is mind boggling. To kill the loving father of your child is heinous!! For spouses these days, though, this seems to be the "ultimate solution." NOnetheless, as I previously stated; God is a forgiving God. He realizes the flaws -- gigantic and small -- in us.

  • grayboomerang Mar 13, 2009

    But doesn't arsenic leave rings around the hair roots?

  • anastasia Mar 13, 2009

    'Deadly Dose' by Amanda Lamb is an excellent read, by the way, and answers most of the questions raised here. A simple autopsy wouldn't have provided evidence of arsenic poisoning. One would have to have a 'heavy metal' toxicology scan done I would think. Those aren't routine tests. Look how long Blanche Taylor Moore got away with poisoning her victims.

  • Trivr Mar 13, 2009

    I found this case fascinating. It was determined he was poisoned at home and then again in the hospital, yet his wife remained free years afterward.