How an undercover sting at a Phoenix Chili’s restaurant led to the seize of Bryan Patrick Miller, the canal killer

Chilly case Detective Clark Schwartzkopf was working a double homicide case from the early Nineties and had organized to satisfy an individual of curiosity at a Chili’s restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. The concept was to get the attainable suspect’s DNA so forensic investigators may decide if it matched male DNA discovered on the our bodies of the 2 feminine victims, Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas.

These unsolved murders had turn into often called the canal murders as a result of each ladies have been attacked whereas taking bike rides alongside the town’s distinctive canal paths.

It was Jan. 2, 2015, and Schwartzkopf was assembly with a man named Bryan Patrick Miller. The detective had realized that Miller was one thing of an area celeb. He preferred to attend widespread zombie walks and different festivals in Phoenix dressed as a personality often called the Zombie Hunter, and followers and cops posed with him.

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

Ben Garcia


When he was in character, Miller wore a do-it-yourself costume with goggles and a menacing masks and carried a pretend Gatling gun. He additionally drove and tricked out an outdated Crown Victoria police automobile, splashed it with pretend blood and put the identify Zombie Hunter on the again. He additionally typically put a ghoulish model within the again seat behind bars.

The day they met for dinner, Miller had pushed his distinctive automobile to Chili’s. That actually caught Schwartkopf’s consideration, however the detective nonetheless did not imagine Bryan Miller was the canal killer. One of many causes he was a possible suspect was as a result of a genetic genealogist had matched the identify Miller to the crime scene DNA.

However Schwartzkopf remained skeptical that this 42-year-old divorced dad elevating a teenage daughter alone and dealing at an Amazon warehouse may very well be the killer.

Schwartzkopf informed “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant that he primarily needed to cross this Miller off his listing. “I used to be actually extra about simply getting his DNA,” Schwartzkopf mentioned, “clearing him and shifting on as a result of my dialog with him, he was the final individual I ever thought can be accountable for this. He was mild-mannered.”

Van Sant reviews on the case in “Unmasking the Zombie Hunter,” now streaming on Paramount+.

The detective’s doubts have been bolstered as he noticed the way in which Bryan Miller handled his teenage daughter whom he had introduced alongside for the meal at Chili’s. “He had a superb rapport together with his daughter.”

Van Sant requested, “Was he bodily imposing? He regarded like a man who may overpower folks?”

Angela Brosso, left, and Melanie Bernas

Cedar Cliff H.S./Maricopa County Courtroom


The canal killer had ambushed Brosso and Bernas whereas they have been every out on nighttime bicycle rides. Someway, the killer had stopped them, after which stabbed and sexually assaulted them. The killings have been significantly vicious and Brosso had been beheaded.

“He is a much bigger man, however he is extra comfortable,” the detective mentioned. “Large enough to the place he may actually overpower ladies, however not somebody you would be actually frightened of on the road.”

Schwartzkopf had organized to be seated in a quiet part of Chili’s. Undercover detectives watched employees take the silverware and plates out of the dishwasher after which detectives positioned them on the desk to make sure they’d not be contaminated, Schwartzkopf informed “48 Hours.”

Miller ordered a burger and a glass of water. “He swallows his hamburger, in like, 5 bites, Schwartzkopf mentioned. “Will not take a drink of his water. And I am sitting there going, ‘Are you certain you…don’t desire…one thing else to drink? You simply bought water.’ ‘No, no, I am good, I am good, I am good.'”


“48 Hours” investigates: “Unmasking the Zombie Hunter”

However then to Schwartkopf’s aid, Miller lastly took a sip of water: “That is once I knew that, OK, now we have no less than bought his DNA.”

As quickly as Miller walked out, undercover detectives secured the glass Miller had used. Miller then gave Schwartzkopf a fast tour of his Zombie Hunter automobile earlier than he left.

Eleven days later, the detective bought a go to from the pinnacle of the forensic lab. Schwartzkopf informed Van Sant what occurred. “She leans right down to me, she goes, ‘It is him.’ I am going ‘What?’ She goes, ‘Bryan Miller, it is him.’ … Nicely, the blood rushed from my head. … I sort of sat again and I went, ‘You have gotta be kidding.'”

Miller was arrested instantly and denied he had killed anybody. The case took nearly eight years to get to trialhowever Miller was convicted of murdering Brosso and Bernas and obtained the demise penalty in June 2023.

Beneath Arizona legislation, Miller will obtain an automated attraction.

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