Murder victim remembered here Tuesday

By on February 25, 2015

by Patrick Burns

Monica Lynn Miller was remembered Tuesday as a loving, funny, beautiful, independent, determined, caring, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, neighbor, and friend.

That was the constant refrain among an overflowing assembly that gathered in Akron to honor Miller’s life which was cut short six days before on Feb. 18.

The man accused of gunning down the 44-year-old Miller is a former clergyman who has worked in the local area as a painter. Ephrata Police chaplain, Pastor Joe Hyatt, directed Miller’s funeral ceremonies at the Stradling Funeral Home yesterday.

Miller’s family, friends and neighbors (see accompanying obituary) described her as a hard-working person of character who quietly tackled life’s challenges with an uncompromising love of her family, which always came first.

Police on Wednesday investigate the murder of Monica Lee Miller.

Police on Wednesday investigate the murder of Monica Lee Miller.

But that all changed when, according to police, Randy S. Shreiner, of West Lampeter Township, ambushed Miller as she prepared to drive to work from the parking lot of her apartment building on the 500 block of East Main Street in Ephrata at 6:20 a.m. last Thursday.

Ephrata Police Detective Graeme Quinn filed homicide charges against Shreiner, who surrendered to Pennsylvania State Police at around 2 a.m. Thursday.

He remains jailed in Lancaster County Prison. District Judge Edward A. Tobin denied bail to the former pastor at his arraignment in Warwick Township.

Ephrata Police Lt. Thomas Shumaker noted his department had worked closely with the district attorney’s office and the Lancaster County major crimes unit. He said the charges against Shreiner include criminal homicide and carrying a firearm without a license.

Shreiner’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. at District Judge Tony S. Russell’s court located about a half block away from the murder scene.

Investigators say Shreiner killed Miller after she rejected him.

It is unknown how Miller — a Cocalico High School graduate who had lived in Wellsboro before returning to the area — met Shreiner, who had lived with his wife in West Lampeter Township.

Family and friends said Miller declined any involvement with Shreiner after she discovered he was married.

Authorities said Shreiner had been continually texting Miller and made one last text about 40 minutes before ambushing her from bushes adjacent to her parked car.

Investigators said the suspect fired four shots and hit Miller inside her car. Miller was found outside the vehicle in the parking lot. Her 20-year-old daughter, who lived with Miller, heard the shots and looked from the apartment window to see her mother face down in a pool of blood.

Miller was pronounced dead when emergency workers arrived on the scene.

At a Feb. 19 press conference, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Shreiner bought the gun he allegedly used to shoot Miller the day before.

Shreiner’s wife called police after hearing news reports of the slaying Wednesday morning. She told police her husband may have been involved because he was depressed over the ended relationship with Miller.

Shreiner had been ordained to officiate weddings with The Lord’s House of Prayer. He officiated ceremonies in at least 10 weddings between November 1991 and May 2007, according to newspaper records.

According to The Ephrata Review records, Miller’s death is the first homicide in Ephrata since 2001. Elementary school principal Lucy Smith, and her husband, Terry, were brutally tortured and killed inside their Sand Court home in September 2001.

Lucy Smith’s son Michael Bourgeois, who was 17 at the time, was charged along with Landon May, then 19, and Dreana Rodriguez, then 34. All three were charged with homicide and numerous other crimes — Bourgeois and Rodriguez are serving life prison sentences.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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