Minneapolis cold case murder suspect wasn’t first DNA comparison

New details are emerging from the investigation that led to murder charges 39 years after a Minneapolis man was stabbed to death.

DNA evidence led police to a suspect in Illinois, but investigators first checked another man’s DNA against crime scene evidence.

Detectives saved blood from 1984 and as DNA technology improved, they ran genealogical testing which narrowed down their list of suspects to Matthew Russell Brown and his brother.

Bob Miller’s death in a South Uptown apartment tore a deep wound in his family’s fabric in 1984.

Thirty-nine years later, police arrested 66-year-old Matthew Brown for the murder and ripped the wound back open.

"It was like the day it happened," said Bob’s brother, Jim Miller, about learning of an arrest. "I fell apart. I couldn’t talk and I broke down. It was terrible, but it was good."

Court documents show police got the investigation moving again in 2019, checking blood found at the murder scene against DNA databases. A consultant developed a family tree narrowing the lot of suspects down to two brothers. Police collected a bottle from one brother’s trash in 2021 and eliminated him as a suspect.

Earlier this year, they retrieved a cup Brown had used at a restaurant and the DNA profile matched. Bob Miller’s brother, Jim, called it a win for investigators and the Miller family.

"It’s good that we know what happened and that it’s kind of resolved," he said.

Investigators say Brown admitted to following a woman to her apartment after a bar closed, cutting through a window to get inside, running into a man, and running home covered in blood saying to himself "What have I done?" Police say he told them it weighed on him for decades and he always prayed it wasn’t real.

Jim Miller believes it was, but he’s not wallowing in anger towards his brother’s alleged killer.

"No, I don’t want to carry that load," he said. "It’s too hard to be angry. It was just traumatic for everybody, you know? Him, too. He had to be looking over his shoulder for 39 years also and that can’t be a very nice life."

Brown is indicted on a first-degree murder charge, but a trial is unlikely before spring because the defense is working to possibly challenge the DNA collection and analysis.