3531 54th Des MoinesCourtesy photo Google Maps
Anna T. Miller was bludgeoned to death in this 3531 54th St. Des Moines home sometime on Saturday, July 8, 1978.

Anna T. Miller

Homicide

Anna Titje Miller
57 YOA
3531 54th Street
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Case # 1978-25150
July 8, 1978

 

 

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

Fifty-seven-year-old Anna T. Miller — a secretary at the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company (PDM) — was discovered deceased in her Des Moines home on Monday, July 10, 1978, after failing to report to work.

Miller’s brother, Merle Miller, discovered his sister’s body in the living room of her home at 3531 54th Street after following up on a phone call from his sister’s co-worker.

Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co.Courtesy photo lukenshistoricdistrict.org
The Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company (PDM) — where Anna Miller worked as a secretary — fabricated the “forked” columns to be used at the base of the World Trade Center. 

Polk County Medical Examiner Dr. R.C. Wooters ruled cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head —  the weapon likely an ax — which caused Ms. Miller to bleed out.

Wooters estimated the homicide occurred sometime on Saturday, July 8, 1978.

Miller, who lived alone, had put up a struggle during the attack, though Wooters said nothing indicated sexual assault.

No signs of robbery existed and police did not disclose any motive for the attack.
The Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company where Miller worked was also known for having fabricated the 160 fork-shaped columns for the base of the World Trade Center.

Anna T Miller gravestoneCourtesy photo Hooked on Family, findagrave.com
Anna T. Miller is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Bristow, Butler County, Iowa.
About Anna Titje Miller

Anna Titje Miller was born October 28, 1920, in Butler County, Iowa, to John Henry and Olive Evelyn (Piper) Miller.

She was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Bristow, Iowa, in Butler County.

Information Needed

If you have any information about Anna Miller’s unsolved murder, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4864.

Sources:
  • Des Moines Police Department, correspondence to Iowa Cold Cases, July 10, 2009
  • Lt. Camden Moran, Des Moines Police Department, Friday, July 10, 2009
  • Anna Titje Miller (1920 – 1978) — Find a Grave Memorial
  • “4 sons seek answers in dad’s ’86 murder,” The Des Moines Register, Feb. 20, 2004
  • “Slayings keep D.M. police stumped,” The Des Moines Register, Sept. 13, 2003
  • “D.M. Woman found slain; 13 ax wounds on her head,” The Des Moines Register, July 11, 1978
  • “First ‘Tree Panel’ for World Trade Center,” The PDM News, August 1968
  • John R. Adams, Lukens Historic District

 

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

10 Responses to Anna T. Miller

  1. Scott Shehan says:

    I have been researching my maternal grandmother who killed a man name Paul Stewart in Des Moines in 1965. She was convicted of manslaughter for that crime. In the trial records a witness to the crime was a person by the name of Anna Miller. I wanted to know more about what happened and started researching the case. I came across this unsolved case and couldn’t help but wonder if this was the same person that witnessed the killing my grandmother was involved with and if this had any link. My grandmother’s name was Arlene Violet Shipley. November 15, 1965 was the date on the docket. I would hope this has nothing to do with my grandmother but need to clear up either way. You can reach me at the email above. I would appreciate any assistance.
    Scott

  2. Diane McKenzie-Grant says:

    I did not know Anna Miller, but lived in the upstairs apartment in a house behind hers. I was a single 26 year old living alone.

    When I arrived home from work on the murder was discovered, A DSM policeman was in my driveway. He was questioning neighbors about any strange happenings over the previous month. He was especially interested in prank or obscene phonecalls, dogs’ night time barking and unusual night time happenings. I reported having received several hang-up calls, all between midnight and 2:00 am. I also reported being unhappy about the incessant barking of the dogs in the yard next to Anna’s, whenever they heard noises.

    The door to my apartment swelled in hot weather and would not close tight enough to lock. I remember being very fearful about coming home to and sleeping in an unlocked home. Whenever I left home I would slip a piece of paper between the door and the jamb, so I could tell if the door had been opened while I was away. Each night I put pie pans and other clatterly objects on indside stairs going up to my place. I kept a baseball bat at the top of my stairs.

    Once I came home and found the paper fallen into the threashhold. Upstairs I found the book Of Death And Dying out of my bookshelf and in the middle of my living room floor. I assumed that one of friends was playing a trick on me. I did not report the incident

    However, maybe I should have called the police about it. Maybe a year or less after the murder, the DSM Register had an article about women living alone on Anna’s street. Some of them were receiving hang-up calls and reporting window peekers. One mother and her college-aged daughter were finding strange and creepy notes. I don’t have the article, but I remember one of the notes saying something like: RIng around the rowdy, axes axes, we all must die. The article also had something about the daughter finding her car with battery cables disconnected in the Grandview College parking lot. When she got home, there was either a note or an anonymous phonecall (I don’t remember the particulars) saying something like “I don’t like it when you go so far from home.”

    Gossip around the neighborhood was that Anna’s neighbor with the dogs was possibly responsible for all of this, because he was fed up with people making complaints about his dogs. Supposedly nobody heard the dogs barking the night of the murder. Therefore, the murderer had to be somebody the dogs knew.

  3. Robert Lucht says:

    I wonder if the killer was influenced by Stephen King’s novel “The Shining”1977.There’s another axe murder of Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison September 12,1980 this was the year the movie came out.

  4. blah says:

    PDM did not make the forked columns used in the World Trade Center, Lukens Steel in Coatesville, PA made them. Your photo even gives credit to the Lukens Historic District.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      To blah: I respectfully disagree. PDM “did” in fact fabricate the forked columns used in the World Trade Center. The steel plate was made and rolled by Lukens. The website Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. | Medialander | Connects states (shown with the bold print exactly as it appears at the referenced website):

      The Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company (originally the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company), and often referred to as Pitt-Des Moines Steel or PDM was an American steel fabrication company. It operated from 1892 until approximately 2002 when its assets were sold to other companies, including Chicago Bridge & Iron Company. The company began as a builder of steel water tanks and bridges. It also later fabricated the “forked” columns for the World Trade Center in the 1960s, and was the steel fabricator and erector for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. A number of its works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

      Also, the Let’s Roll Forums page here provides not only some additional information, but a number of incredible pictures and tables listing all the WTC steel elements recovered for the NIST investigation.

      I properly provided courtesy photo credit to the Lukens Historic District website because that is where I found the black-and-white photo used in Anna’s case summary.

  5. Mel says:

    I was 8 yrs old when my Mom told me (or maybe I overheard her telling someone) that my Dad’s secretary at PDM had been murdered by an axe to the head. This has always stuck with me and I can’t believe this crime has never been solved. It sounds like crime of passion. I always wondered if anyone from PDM was a suspect of course not my Dad!

  6. Andrea Tietje Bibeau says:

    This was my great aunt whom I was named after. I never got to meet her, unfortunately. It was very tragic. Although it was never solved, our family and many others believed the peeping tom mentioned above was most likely the murderer.

    • Nancy Heyer Lowe says:

      Andrea Tietje Bibeau, Anna was my mothers cousin. She thinks back and talks about this time often. Every Memorial Day my mother visits this cemetery to place flowers on her relatives graves. We also talk about Tietje and I even had thought about naming my daughter this.

  7. Scot Korte says:

    I grew up in Allison, 5 miles from Bristow where this lady was born and is now buried. I had never heard of this cold case until now.

  8. I wonder if this case was ever checked for a link to my friends murder. Rose Burkert, Amana, IA, 9/12/80. Holiday Inn Motel on I 80. Murdered with Axe or hatchet like instrument!!!!!

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