LISBON - Christopher Miller, the man deputies say cleaned the blood of Matthew Bailey from his girlfriend's vehicle on the day Bailey was murdered, was bound over to the county grand jury on a tampering with evidence charge Thursday following a preliminary hearing in Columbiana County Municipal Court.
Testifying on Thursday, Sgt. Detective Jeff Haugh of the county sheriff's office described the bloody scene last October when 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.
Haugh stated there was a lot of blood and it was found eight to 10 feet from the body on the trees in the woods and on nearby cornstalks. Haugh said the county coroner's report shows Bailey died of severe bludgeoning to the head.
Morning Journal/Deanne Johnson
Christopher Miller, left, appears in court with his attorney, Charley Kidder.
Although he did not personally see it, Haugh testified investigators have been told Miller and Bailey were riding around together earlier that day, leaving Bailey's home on Franklin Avenue in Salem with Miller driving his girlfriend's car and Bailey riding in the passenger seat.
Miller and his girlfriend, Patty Colon, were living at lot 215 in the Butler Mobile City on U.S. Route 62. Haugh said when deputies went there to attempt to get Miller on an unrelated bench warrant for failure to appear, Miller at first ran out the back door, then ran back inside and hid under some covers in a bedroom.
Haugh testified Colon's vehicle, a 2001 black Ford Escape, was taken as evidence and placed in the evidence garage. Despite reportedly admitted efforts by Miller to clean the vehicle, Haugh said blood was found in the vehicle's front passenger seat, on a seat belt and on the inside of the door as well as on the outside of the vehicle.
Additionally, deputies reportedly found blood spattered on the boots Miller was wearing when they took him into custody. A ripped white thermal undershirt, also with blood on it, was reportedly found.
"Every sample we sent was consistent with Matthew Bailey," Haugh testified about the result of tests completed on the items, which had been forwarded to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Haugh also testified he interviewed Miller on Oct. 27, Oct. 28 and Feb. 4 and during all three meetings Miller admitted to attempting to clean the vehicle. Miller also reportedly told deputies he had found Bailey's body in the field prior to when he was discovered. Bailey was found dead on a service road off Hartley Road by people riding four-wheelers.
Following the decision by Judge Carol Robb to send the case the grand jury, defense attorney Charley Kidder requested a "steep reduction" in bond for Miller, noting although County Prosecutor Robert Herron has told Miller to expect additional charges in regard to Bailey's homicide, those charges have not yet been filed.
"At this time the charges are hypothetical," Kidder said after noting his client would be agreeable to electronically monitored house arrest as a condition of his release if bond were lowered.
As he did last week, Herron went over a long list of previous charges against Miller including felony charges of theft, breaking and entering, non-support of dependents, forgery and identity fraud. Additionally, Herron said he has convictions of domestic violence, resisting arrest, obstructing official business, multiple OVI convictions and failure to appear. Herron also provided additional information stating he had heard Miller told a relative he intended to flee if he were to be released.
Robb noted she had in her possession a six-page criminal record. What concerned her most is the violence of Miller's offenses, his previous failure to appear and that he has attempted to flee in the past. She left his bond at $2 million.
Although a homicide victim, Bailey was also the man Leah Klusch, the widow of 2011 murder victim Gerald Klusch, believed responsible for her husband's death. In late September 2013, Leah Klusch filed a 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.