Local News

Investigators Wonder How Many Times Miller Was Poisoned

Posted January 25, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— Investigators are also facing another question in the case of Dr. Eric Miller's death. The timeline of events surrounding the death raises the question of how many times Miller was poisoned:

November 15:Eric Miller goes bowling with three of his wife's co-workers, including Derril Willard. He drinks beer that Willard bought. An hour later, he is sick.

That night, Miller's wife, Ann, takes him to Rex Hospital, where his illness is not diagnosed.

Miller is transferred to UNC Hospitals, where it is discovered he has unusual levels of arsenic in his blood. November 24:After his condition improves, he is sent home. Neighbors say Miller uses a cane while at home. November 30:Miller is readmitted to Rex after becoming violently ill again. Tests find high levels of arsenic in his blood. December 2:Miller dies.

Dr. Woodhall Stopford, a leading Duke University toxicologist, says arsenic usually leaves the bloodstream in just a day or two, raising the possibility that Miller received more than one dose of arsenic. Police have not released the exact levels of arsenic in Miller's blood, making the question difficult to answer.

"You don't have to have two doses," Stopford says. "Arsenic has both immediate as well as delayed effects, so you can have one exposure that can cause effects that might occur a week or two weeks later."

Investigators are not commenting officially on the case. Detectives are trying to learn more from the other people who were with Miller and Willard at the bowling alley.