After 10-month investigation, Utah police arrest man for murder
Nearly a year after a Vernal man was found strangled and beaten to death in his apartment, police have arrested and charged a man who was his former roommate and employee.
Christopher Codi Andersen, 29, was charged Tuesday with first-degree felony murder in the July 6, 2013, death of 53-year-old Christopher Miller.
A neighbor at Miller's apartment building, at 1350 W. 150 North, called police on July 6, reporting that someone may have burglarized Miller's condominium and that there might be a dead body inside. When police went inside, they found Miller's body in the living room amidst the aftermath of a struggle, police wrote in charges. Items were overturned and broken, and food from Sonic restaurant was spilled.
Miller's body showed wounds with markings that matched a piece of a broken ceramic statute that was found under his body.
An autopsy later revealed that Miller died of "manual strangulation and blunt force trauma," according to police.
Police said in July that Miller's roommate was a person of interest in the case but had not named him. In Wednesday's charges, police wrote that Andersen had been living with Miller, who Andersen described as his boss. Andersen was in the parking lot when police arrived and claimed he "did not know what happened" and that he was not the one who "did it," investigators wrote.
Andersen later said he and Miller had been drinking the night before, and Andersen woke up to find the mess in the living room. He said there had been no dispute between them.
But another friend said Miller and Andersen were fighting during a trip to the Sonic restaurant the night before, police wrote. Later that month, another friend of Andersen told police that Andersen spoke of a fight with Miller that occurred the night before his body was found, investigators wrote.
According to Vernal police, the arrest came so long after the death because investigators were waiting for forensic analysis from the state crime lab. Andersen's DNA was found under Miller's fingernails, and Miller's blood was found on the shirt Andersen was wearing, police wrote. After final results were received late last week, police obtained an arrest warrant for Andersen.
Police officials said Andersen was incarcerated for much of the last year on unrelated charges, and that investigators had kept a close eye on his whereabouts while awaiting the evidence needed to make the arrest.
According to Utah court records, Andersen was arrested shortly after Miller's death and was charged with failure to register as a sex offender and unlawful purchase by an interdicted person. He took a plea deal in November, pleading guilty to the failure to register charge. A 8th District Court judge suspended a prison sentence in favor of probation.
Andersen was convicted in 2011 of wrongful appropriation and intoxication. And in 2003, he was convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He served 90 days in jail for that offense.