Phoenix Canal Murders: Unmasking the Suspected ‘Zombie Hunter’

Bryan Patrick Miller in costume as his alter ego, the Zombie Hunter

The cold case involving the murders of Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas from the early 1990s has seen a new development as Detective Clark Schwartzkopf met with a person of interest, Bryan Patrick Miller, at a Chili’s restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona on January 2, 2015. The main objective of the meeting was to discreetly obtain Miller’s DNA to see if it matched the DNA found on the victims.

Brosso and Bernas, both attacked while cycling along Phoenix’s canal paths, became the center of a case dubbed the “canal murders.” Miller, locally known for his “Zombie Hunter” persona at local events, came under scrutiny due to a DNA surname match linked to the crime scene. However, Schwartzkopf had initial reservations about Miller being the actual perpetrator, given his mild demeanor and his role as a single parent to a teenage daughter.

As the two dined, Detective Schwartzkopf carefully observed Miller’s interactions, especially with his daughter, who accompanied him. Despite the fact that the killer had exhibited immense strength during the attacks, Schwartzkopf noted that while Miller had a sizeable build, he didn’t come across as particularly threatening. The key objective of the meet was to secure Miller’s DNA, which became possible when Miller took a sip of water.

Forensic results, obtained eleven days later, confirmed a match between Miller’s DNA and the samples found on the victims. Miller was arrested but maintained his innocence.

The case, prolonged over nearly eight years, culminated in Miller’s conviction for the murders of both Brosso and Bernas in June 2023, with the court handing down the death penalty. Under Arizona’s legal framework, Miller’s case will automatically qualify for an appeal.

In court, during the sentencing phase, Miller addressed the suffering of the victims’ families, “I cannot imagine what pain they have endured for all these years.” He spoke about his challenges growing up and his relationship with his daughter, expressing a desire to assist her in any way possible, given the turmoil this case has caused her.

Miller’s statement also shed light on his struggles with understanding himself, hinting at a troubled past with his mother. Despite the hardships he faced, he emphasized his commitment to his daughter and his attempts at being a good father to her. He concluded by expressing a hope for everyone to find some semblance of peace moving forward.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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