Fourteen-year-old Claire Miller is charged with homicide after police say she stabbed her older sister, Helen, in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 22.
Miller, who has been charged as an adult, is one of the youngest accused killers in Lancaster County since 1976.
Here’s everything we know - and don’t know - about what happened so far.
This story will be updated as details become available.
What happened after Claire Miller called police?
Officers with Manheim Township Police Department responded to the home in the 1500 block of Clayton Road just after 1 a.m. for a reported stabbing. Responding officers were told that a girl, later identified as Claire Miller, was “hysterical” on the phone and said she “killed her sister,” according to the criminal complaint.
Responding officers arrived at the residence and were waved down by Claire Miller, who was standing in front of the residence with blood on her pants. She repeatedly told officers “I stabbed my sister”, and officers saw blood nearby, according to charging documents. Officers said it looked as though she tried to wash her hands in the snow.
Once inside the residence, officers found 19-year-old Helen Marie Miller in a bedroom with a pillow over her face. When officers removed the pillow, they found “a large knife” in Helen’s neck just above her chest, according to charging documents.
Despite lifesaving measures, she was pronounced dead by Lancaster County Deputy Coroner W. Wayne Hopkins at 4:13 a.m.
The district attorney’s office said the killing happened while the girls’ parents were asleep.
Lancaster County coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni ruled Wednesday that Helen Miller died as a result of multiple stab wounds. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
The criminal complaint did not make it clear how many times Helen Miller had been stabbed.
What has Claire Miller been charged with?
Claire Miller is charged with a single count of criminal homicide.
How can Claire Miller be charged with criminal homicide if she’s 14 years old?
Claire Miller is being charged as an adult because homicide is not considered a delinquent act in Pennsylvania. State law mandates that juveniles be treated as adults for charges that can lead to a murder conviction, due to the gravity of the crime.
District attorneys also can seek to have any child 14 years old or older charged as an adult with any felony.
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.
Where is Claire Miller now?
Claire Miller was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge David Miller on Monday and left the office in police custody with a coat draped over her head.
Since she is charged with homicide, she was denied bail 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.
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.
Aberts told a reporter in an email Tuesday that the prison is responsible "for the care, custody and control" of Miller until the district attorney's office or court authorizes a move.
"Until that point comes we will do the best for everyone involved to ensure that the safe keeping of this juvenile is completed," Aberts wrote.
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.
Aberts could not recall any other juvenile female being committed to Lancaster County Prison.
What do we know about Claire and Helen Miller?
Claire and Helen Miller lived in a one-story rancher 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 Lancaster Country Day School, where Claire Miller was enrolled in the ninth grade, according to according to Steve Lisk, the head of school.
A spokesperson for Manheim Township School District confirmed Helen Miller received educational services through the district. Details about those services and her education were unavailable Tuesday.
"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."
A directory for HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, based in Philadelphia, lists Helen Miller of Clayton Road in its family directory.
Tom Quinn, president of the school, told ABC27 in an email that Helen Miller was a student and participating in the school's program virtually. ABC27 is a reporting partner with LNP | LancasterOnline. Helen Miller also appears in a video on the school's Facebook page.
"Helen was our student and we loved her very much," Quinn wrote in the email. "Our staff is devastated and our thoughts and prayers are with the Millers."
Neighbors who knew the Millers but declined to be identified said they were shocked and saddened by what happened.
County property records indicate the Millers' home on Clayton Road was purchased by Helen M. Miller for $495,000 in 2005, and ownership of the home was listed under an irrevocable trust in Helen Miller's name. The Millers' parents, Mark and Marie-Elaina Miller, are listed as trustees of that estate.
Diamantoni confirmed Tuesday that Helen Miller had cerebral palsy.
How are schools addressing the incident with their students?
Lisk said everyone at the school is “perplexed” “and saddened” in the day after the stabbing. Students teachers, faculty and administration held virtual meetings Monday and the school is making sure counselors are available for students.
Lisk added that no memorial or vigil has been planned yet, but they planned moments of silence throughout the school day Tuesday.
What happens next?
A criminal docket indicates Claire Miller is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. on March 30 in front of Magisterial District Judge David Miller.
Some of the reasons why the hearing could be continued include either the prosecutor or Miller’s attorney needing more time to prepare.
During a preliminary hearing, prosecutors have to present evidence that a crime was committed and that the defendant probably is responsible and, therefore, that a jury or judge should hear the case in county court. If a district judge finds there is sufficient evidence, the case is then moved onto Lancaster County Court.
Or, Claire Miller and her attorney could choose to waive the preliminary hearing and allow the prosecution to move the charges to county court without a hearing.
Then, Miller will be scheduled for a formal arraignment, during which she can enter a plea.
Court documents indicate Claire Miller is represented by Robert David Beyer of the Goldberg & Beyer law firm. Efforts to reach her attorney have so far been unsuccessful.