METRO HALIFAX - On Monday, just over four months since Catherine "Catie" Miller was last heard from on July 15, Halifax Regional Police ruled the Dartmouth woman’s case a homicide.
The man charged with first-degree murder in relation to Catie Miller’s disappearance appeared in court Nov. 24 and was arraigned until February.
Members of the emergency response team arrested Jason James Johnson, 29, on Nov. 22 around 9:45 p.m. at a Charlotte Lane address in Halifax.
He was interviewed and charged in relation to her disappearance. Police say he has no known permanent address, and appeared briefly in Dartmouth provincial court Monday to face charges of first-degree murder and indecently interfering with a dead human body.
Johnson was arraigned and is due back in court Feb.3, 2015.
Supt. Jim Perrin told reporters they ruled Miller’s case as a homicide based on the investigation and “many, many” pieces of evidence, but her body as not been found.
He said police are confident that Miller’s body will be found, and investigators are actively searching the province for her remains.
Investigators had suspicions Miller had been killed just a few days after she went missing, Perrin said, and the case was taken over by the homicide section in July.
Miller’s parents and friends have held multiple vigils and postering campaigns to help bring awareness of her disappearance across Canada.
“This is devastating news. We can only begin to try to imagine what they must be going through,” Perrin said.
He said police spoke with Miller’s parents Nov. 23 about the charges and informed them the case had been investigated as a homicide for months.
“Our primary role is to find out what happened to Ms. Miller and, if we have to hold back information to do that, we will,” Perrin said.
“We want to … make sure the responsible parties are brought to court and that’s what was done this morning.”
Although they have not found her body, Perrin said investigators feel they have enough evidence to lay the interfering with human remains charge.
Johnson and Miller were in a relationship, Perrin said, but would not comment on how they knew one another.
The Dartmouth woman is the daughter of Terry and John Miller. She had a young son. Catie graduated from King's-Edgehill School in Windsor and then attended Saint Mary’s University and the Nova Scotia Community College.
James Johnson known to police
The 29-year-old man facing a charge of first-degree murder in Catie Miller’s death has a criminal record going back to 2005 that includes theft and possession of an unauthorized firearm.
Jason James Johnson was convicted in November 2011 of possession of an unauthorized firearm, according to Public Prosecution Service spokeswoman Chris Hansen.
In 2005, Johnson was also convicted of public mischief, theft, breaching probation, uttering threats, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, Hansen said.
Supt. Jim Perrin of the Halifax Regional Police told reporters Monday he believes Johnson is not from Halifax but another part of the province.
Although he was arrested at a Charlotte Lane address, Perrin said Johnson has no permanent residence they know of. He could not say who was living in the Charlotte Lane residence, or how long Johnson had been there.
When asked whether Miller’s disappearance was connected to any of Johnson’s prior offences, Perrin said the announcement of charges was not about either person’s background but what happened to Miller.
“Our focus all along through this investigation is to find out what happened,” Perrin said. “Today we brought the responsible person before the courts.
Anyone who may have information about Catie Miller’s disappearance/homicide is asked to contact investigators at 902-490-5016. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip or texting a tip - Tip 202 + your message to 274637.
With files from Jennifer Hoegg, TC MEDIA