'Zombie Hunter' Sentenced To Death For Murdering Two Women In The 1990s
A man who referred to himself as the ‘Zombie Hunter’ has been sentenced to death for the separate murders of two young women in the 1990s.
In the early 1990s, a teen girl and a young woman were both murdered while separately riding their bikes along the Arizona Canal in Phoenix, Arizona. On June 7, 2023, their murderer, Bryan Patrick Miller, now 50, was sentenced to death after facing multiple charges for killing them. He was convicted in April 2023 on two counts of first-degree murder, attempted sexual assault, and kidnapping.
Miller was known around Phoenix for attending events dressed up as a character he called the ‘Zombie Hunter’. He wore a distinct helmet, goggles, and a mask and would carry a big fake gun and drive a modified police car with splattered fake blood, according to AZ Central. Miller managed to escape suspicion for decades.
Back in November 1992, 21-year-old Angela Brosso disappeared while riding her bike along the Arizona Canal in the northern area of Phoenix. Less than a year later, in September 1993, 17-year-old Melanie Bernas also disappeared while riding her bike by the same canal.
Police believe Miller knocked Brosso off her bike, then he stabbed her and forced her off the trail. Her nude body was later found on a bike trail; the young woman had been decapitated.
"With his actions on that night, he murdered my angel, he ripped my heart, and I will never, ever be the same," said Linda Brosso, Angela's mother, reported CBS News.
Ten months later, the body of teenager Melanie Bernas was found in the same canal. Her mother had last seen the 17-year-old high school junior on the evening of Sept. 21, 1993, according to the Arizona Republic. The next day, a cyclist called for help after riding through a pool of blood near where Brosso’s head had been found the previous year. Police followed drag marks to where Melanie’s body had been dragged and dropped into the water, only to be stopped by some brush.
Like Angela, Melanie was stabbed from behind, and she had been sexually assaulted. Although Melanie hadn’t been decapitated, her bicycle was missing, and the cases had many similarities. They became known as the “canal killings”, but the cases went cold for years.
In January 2015, authorities were able to link Miller to both murders through DNA, and he was arrested. Now a single dad who was working as an Amazon employee, he waived his right to a jury trial. He ultimately decided to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
Miller didn’t testify at the double murder bench trial that started in October 2022, and he was convicted for the murders in April 2023 before he was given the death penalty in June 2023.
When sentencing Miller to death, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Cohen spoke of the cruelty of the murders. She reminded all of the victims, stating, “The defendant did not just murder them. He brutalized them. And he evaded capture for over 20 years.”
As reported by PEOPLE, Brosso’s mother Linda said, “The defendant stole my angel from the Earth. Angela was my one and only. I will never be able to plan her wedding. I will never have grandchildren. With his actions on that night, he murdered my angel, he ripped my heart, and I will never, ever be the same.”
Bernas’ sister Jill Canetta said, according to KPHO-TV, “Words cannot begin to explain the level of excruciating pain we experience every single day since her murder. We live without her smile, her hugs, her companionship. We live without her love.”
“Even someone with second or third-hand information about what happened may hold the missing piece of the puzzle,” Palo Alto police say.