Aggravated murder charge added for Miller

LISBON – Both an aggravated murder and a murder indictment were issued this week against, Christopher L. Miller, who is accused in the Oct. 26 bludgeoning death of Matthew Bailey.

The Columbiana County Common Pleas Court grand jury this week indicted Miller, 36, U.S. Route 62, Salem, on both types of murder charges, with the aggravated murder charge going the additional step of accusing Miller of using prior calculation and design in causing Bailey’s death.

Additionally, Miller is indicted on a tampering with evidence charge for allegedly attempting to conceal or remove blood evidence from both the inside and outside of his girlfriend’s 2001 Ford Escape, blood which was later reportedly found through DNA testing to be Bailey’s. Miller and Bailey were reportedly seen riding together in that vehicle, which belonged to Patty Colon, earlier on the day Bailey was found murdered. Miller had reportedly been driving.

Miller was bound over from the Columbiana County Municipal Court on Feb. 18 on only the tampering with evidence charge following a preliminary hearing. During those proceedings, county Prosecutor Robert Herron had suggested Miller was aware he should be expecting charges in connection with Bailey’s homicide. Bond at that time was set at $2 million.

Bailey’s body was found lying face down in the corner of a cornfield off Hartley Road in Butler Township about two to three miles from Miller’s home, according to testimony given by Sgt. Detective Jeff Haugh of the sheriff’s office at the preliminary hearing. Bailey was believed to have died from severe bludgeoning to the head with blood evidence found eight to 10 feet from the body on nearby trees and cornstalks. Miller reportedly also had Bailey’s blood on his clothing.

Bailey was accused by the widow of Gerald Klusch as causing her husband’s death in 2011. In late September 2013, Leah Klusch filed a civil lawsuit in county Common Pleas Court claiming Bailey shot and killed her husband. Gerald G. Klusch, 71, who owned farmland and lived on U.S. Route 30 just west of Lisbon, disappeared on Sept. 29, 2011.

Bailey was identified at the time of Klusch’s disappearance as the last person believed to have seen Klusch alive. Bailey was a farmhand who had worked for Klusch.