This is the true story of two people, who grew up on opposite sides of the United States, and joined the US Army in the early 1970's when it wasn't very popular to join the army. Eventually, both Sgt Susan E Miller and Sgt David N Seeloff were assigned to Company D, 703rd Maintenance Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany. On the evening of October 13th, 1980 (Columbus Day) David Seeloff murdered Susan. What follows is the events of that day and what happened after the murder as told by persons involved, from the case file of the US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and US District Court. I was at the crime scene and know who all of the persons involved are or were. Except for Seeloff and Miller, which are public record, I will not mention the names of others to protect their privacy.
Schweinfurt is a city in Franconia, the northern Bavaria region of Germany. In 1980 it housed units and support units of the 3rd Infantry Division on Ledward Barracks (a former German Panzer Kaserne) and Conn Barracks (a former Luftwaffe Airfield) some 5 miles away from Ledward. The Schweinfurt Military Police station was located on Ledward Barracks and the 703rd Maintenance Battalion's barracks were on Conn. At the time Schweinfurt had one of the highest crime rates in Europe and the vast majority of crime was committed by US soilders or their dependents.
Susan Miller grew up in Portland, Oregon in a middle class Northeast side neighborhood, attended Sabin school and graduated from Grant High School in 1965. Sally Struthers, the actress, was in her class. By all accounts she was a typical Portland girl who played softball and was well liked throughout her school and community. She went to work after high school for several years and joined the US Army in about 1974.
David Seeloff is from the Lockport, New York area near Niagra Falls. In 1980 when the murder happened,
he was about 27 years old. He is also caucasion and is an extremely large man.
Columbus Day weekend 1980 in Schweinfurt saw most of the 3rd Infantry Division units and their support units home rather than in the field. Since the weather had not turned cold yet military personel and their families were busy Bar-B-Queing or going to nearby beer and wine festivals, traveling or the single GI's were taking it easy at local Gast Haus's or the Officers, NCO, or EM clubs. The Schweinfurt Military Police had a very busy weekend which included responding to a heart attack victim who was deceased and responding to an accidental gunshot wound to the head due to intoxication, along with many other calls. 5th Platoon 212th Military Police (part of the 793rd Military Police Battalion, 7th Corps) were "on the road" which ment "White Hat" or law enforcement duty that they periodically shared with the 3rd Infantry Division MP's.
On Monday afternoon October 13th 1980, Sgt Susan Miller and Sgt David Seeloff were at the Conn Barracks NCO club dancing, drinking and socializing. They were seen there "snugling and kissing" each other by several other persons in their unit, although they wern't considered a steady couple. (A Stars and Stripes newspaper report from March 1981 reporting on Seeloff's court martial erroniously reported them as such) Sgt Miller lived in an off-post apartment but, as many GI's did, kept a bunk and wall locker in the barracks. Sgt Seeloff ,who was divorced from a German woman, had his own private room in the barracks as many NCO's do. In the evening the pair went to Sgt Seeloff's room on the first floor of the 703 Maintenance Company barracks. From this point on we only have Sgt. Seeloff's version of what happened from his confession which I will summerize.
After drinking at the club they retuned to his room in the evening where they had consenual intimacy. At some point afterward they got into an argument. Seeloff then strangled Miller and although she tried to fight him off, she lost conciousness. A moment or two later she began to move and regain conciousness when Seeloff strangled her again and made sure she was dead. Afterwards, Seeloff then left the room and went to the phone at the CQ (Charge of Quarters) desk and called a German Taxi cab. When he hung the phone up he said to the CQ "Get ready, all hell is going to break loose in a half hour". The taxi arrived later than expected and Seeloff instructed the taxi driver to take him to the Military Police station on Ledward barracks, some five miles away.
Sgt David Seeloff walked into the Military Police Station which was in the basement of the main administration building on Ledward. He approached the Desk Sergeant , who was busy finishing the shift blotter on the typewriter, and said to him "I need to talk to someone. I have a personal problem. I just murdered someone". The Desk Sergeant, who hadn't had any calls of violence, screams etc during the shift, told his desk assistant (who was also a Military Policeman) to "take him across the hall and see if you can render some assistance". Across the hall in an interview room Seeloff began to tell the story and the desk assistant began taking notes. A few minutes later he locked Seeloff in the room and reported to the Desk Sergeant he "thought this guy was serious". At this point two MP town patrols and the Conn Barracks patrol were dispatched to the 703rd Maintenance quarters on Conn Barracks to investigate.
Upon the arrival of the MP's, the billets CQ was not able to produce the right key to gain access to Sgt Seeloff's room. The three MP's then went outside to his window, which happened to be cracked open, and tried to hoist the smallest of the MP's inside but the window was too high. They went back inside and literally kept lunging against the door until it busted open. When the MP's turned on the light, they saw Miller's body and called for an ambulance and back-up and investigators. . They informed the Desk Sergeant of what they had found, and he immediately ordered them to seal the crime scene and wait for further instructions and the arrival of CID. A short time later the graveyard shift of 212th MP's arrived to assist with crowd control and keeping the crime scene sealed.
Later, US Army CID agents arrived from Weurzburg some 30 KM away and the post commander later arrived at the scene. Sgt Miller's body was then transported to Weurzburg Army Hospital where an autopsy was performed the next day. CID kept the crime secene sealed off for the remainder of the night and several days after while the crime scene was sketched, forensic evidence gathered, and all of the other personel in their unit were interviewd. The day after the murder, Susan's father Alexander was notified by a military officer and chaplain of his daughter's death overseas. He had just lost his wife (Susan's mother ) a few months earlier. Susan's body was sent back to Fort Lewis, Washington decedent affairs office and then on to Portland, Oregon for funeral and interment where many of Susan's high school friends were in attendance.
Meanwhile, Sgt David Seeloff was being held in the Detainment Cell at the Schweinfurt Military Police station and was transported back and forth to appointments with his psychologists. At one point while meeting with them under MP guard, Seeloff burst into a rage and broke the handcuff's (he was handcuffed for the interview with his hands in front). After a few days Seeloff was sent to Mannheim US Army Prison where he awaited Court Martial while the Army JAG officers were preparing their case and defense.
Even though he confessed, David Seeloff pleaded "Not Guilty" but was found guilty by Court Martial in March of 1981. He was handed a sentance of Life In Prison for the pre-meditated murder of Susan Miller plus reduction in rank to E-1 and forfiture of all pay. The reason he was found guilty of "pre-meditated murder" became clear during the CID investigation and the trial. David was fascinated with killing. He had told numerous people in his unit, and the MP desk clerk in his confession that he wanted to be a mercenary, and that he wanted to see what killing someone was like. He also told the clerk that it was "fun" killing Susan and if he ever got out of prison he wanted to be a mercenary. Several Soldier of Fortune magazines were also found in Seeloff's room.
David Seeloff was then transported to the Fort Levenworth, Kansas Disiplinary Barracks (military prison) where he immediately appealed his case into the Federal Court system saying that the desk clerk did not read him his Miranda Rights. Seeloff lost the appeal and remained in Levenworth for 14 years and was released in 1994. When interviewed by a friend of Susans after Seeloff's release , a former Commander of Levenworth said "Life is really never life in the military". David Seeloff then entered a "lifetime" parole until the year 2076 as a military parolee.
David N. Seeloff returned to his mothers farm in upstate New York where he seemed to live a quiet life until November 18th, 2003. At some point prior to that date, someone tipped off David Seeloff's federal parole officer that he had firearms on the farm. The US Military Parole Commission (USMPC) authorized a search of Seeloff's residence, vehicle, property and person. On that date, members of the US Parole Office and the FBI raided the farm. They found numerous long guns, shotguns, and a Western Field M15D shotgun that had been illegally shortened. Seeloff went back to federal prison on a parole violation for four years. When he went back to prison he again made a court appeal, saying that the search of his residence was illegal. The US District Court in the Western District of New York ruled against Seeloff. David Seeloff was again released in 2008 after serving his time on his parole violation.
US Army CID Report # 0567-80-CID847-55472-5H1C/902
United States District Court in the Western District of New York Case 1:04-cr-00163-WMS-HBS Document 30 Filed 05/27/2005
My own memory of the events of October 13th, 1980
This is a photo of the final resting place of Sgt Susan E Miller at the mausoleum at Rose City Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
Below is a 1965 Grant High School yearbook photo of Susan Miller