Local News

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

Posted March 13, 2009 3:22 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2009 5:27 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.