Editor's Note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
A Manheim Township teenager called 911 after midnight Monday and said that she "killed her sister," according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
When officers arrived at the home in the 1500 block of Clayton Road, Claire Elaina Miller, 14, pointed them to a bedroom where her sister, Helen, was. Helen had a stab wound to her neck and died despite life-saving efforts from first responders, police said.
Claire Miller was "hysterical," according to the affidavit of probable cause, and kept repeating, "I stabbed my sister."
Police said there was blood on the snow near the driveway and that Claire Miller, with blood on her pants, appeared to be trying to wash her hands in the snow.
The one-story rancher is located at the dead-end of Clayton Road in an upscale neighborhood south of Harrisburg Pike and west of President Avenue. The home is two blocks west of Country Day, a private school, near Franklin & Marshall College's Baker Campus.
When officers went to the bedroom, they found a blood-stained pillow over Helen Miller's face. When they pulled the pillow back, they found a large knife in her neck above her chest, according to the affidavit. She was lying on her back, and her hands were up near her head.
14-year-old charged with killing sister in Lancaster County early this morning. Claire Miller is being transported to Lancaster County Prison after being arraigned.https://t.co/3hPBuzHI4d pic.twitter.com/EsX2f8Pz42— Harri Leigh (@Harri_Leigh) February 22, 2021
Helen Miller, 19, was pronounced dead at 4:13 a.m.
Claire Miller is being charged as an adult because homicide is not considered a delinquent act in Pennsylvania, the district attorney’s office said.
She was a ninth-grade student at Lancaster Country Day School, according to Steve Lisk, the head of school. Lisk said Helen Miller had never attended the school.
Students at the school were attending classes virtually on Monday. Faculty and staff convened, though, to plan how to address the homicide with students when they return Tuesday. Students who wish to speak to a school counselor are welcome to do so, Lisk said.
“In this moment, we extend our deep sympathy to the family on all fronts,” Lisk said. “We will do our best to turn this in to support for this community, because this is significant loss that affects our entire community.”
A spokesperson for Manheim Township School District confirmed Helen Miller received educational services from a school within the district.
"We were so saddened to learn of Helen's tragic and unexpected passing," a statement read from the school district. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the Miller family. This is a devastating tragedy. While I can not give you specific information related to her, what I can tell you is that Helen was enrolled in our district as of today because she was still receiving educational services from our district."
Neighbors who knew the Millers but declined to be identified said they were shocked and saddened by what happened.
Helen Miller had cerebral palsy, according to Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni.
Claire Miller is one of the youngest people in Lancaster County to be charged with homicide. The last time a teen was charged with homicide was in October 2019.
The district attorney’s office said the killing happened while the girls’ parents were asleep.
Manheim Township police, investigators with the district attorney’s office and detectives with the Lancaster County Major Crimes Unit are investigating the case.
An autopsy for Helen Miller will take place Wednesday at 7 a.m., Diamantoni said.
Claire Miller was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge David Miller and is being housed in Lancaster County Prison in a female housing unit “under constant observation by a dedicated officer,” Deputy Warden William Aberts said in an email Monday night. Since she is charged with homicide, she was denied bail.
“Manheim Township police are fully committed to this investigation,” the district attorney’s office said. Investigators are still working on figuring out a motive for the killing and the circumstances that led to the 19-year-old’s death.
This is the second homicide this month in Lancaster County, one week after a man was found shot dead in a PNC parking lot in Strasburg. His recently estranged wife was arrested and charged following a standoff with police at her East Drumore Township home last week.
Juveniles charged as adults
Pennsylvania law mandates that juveniles be treated as adults for charges that can lead to a murder conviction, due to the gravity of the crime.
An attorney can petition for a case to be transferred to the juvenile system, the district attorney’s office told LNP|LancasterOnline in 2019. A judge may or may not see fit to do so, based on the circumstances.
Apart from juvenile court, judicial procedures in criminal cases are the same regardless of a defendant’s age. A preliminary arraignment is followed by a preliminary hearing, then formal arraignment in county court, at which point a plea is entered.
If a juvenile is charged with a crime punishable by life in prison, he or she is not eligible for bail.
The prison has a separate unit for juveniles. The separation helps to ensure their safety, though they are allowed to mix with the general population in certain settings, such as church services or gym Warden Cheryl Steberger told LNP|LancasterOnline in 2019. Academic instruction is provided on site by a School District of Lancaster teacher, she said.