The 'Canal Killer' Finally Brought To Justice After 30 Years! | The Horrific Murders of Angela Brosso & Melanie Bernas

(Left: Bryan Patrick Miller. Top right: Melanie Bernas. Bottom right: Angela Brosso. Picture credits: The US Sun)

*Please be aware that I will be sharing some disturbing details in this post which involve details of murder, violence towards women and horrific crime scenes. As always I will try to be as sensitive as I can be without leaving out the facts of the case* 

When we look back at some of the most horrific murders and serial killers over the years it's easy to look at the decades of the 70s and 80s as some of the most dangerous times but the truth is, we've always had sickening crimes happening. The frightening reality is, that there are serial killers out there right now and some will be caught and some will remain at large. Some cases will be solved in a short space of time and some may go decades without justice being done. Then there's the case files that are locked away in a cold case box which over time gathers dust and as years go by and other factors, such as lack of proper evidence, or lost evidence, they are sadly never solved. But sometimes incredible things do happen and thanks to the advances in DNA technology and the tireless efforts of dedicated investigators (as well as members of the true crime community) attention is once again brought to these historical cases and even though decades have gone by there have been cases which have eventually been solved. 

I'm happy to say that in the past couple of years I have seen a significant number of cold cases solved, cases which a lot of people had given up on. The heartbreaking story of Caroline Glachan which occurred in my hometown back in Scotland and which had a personal connection to myself, was solved after 27 years. I had worked with Caroline's mother and as a teenager I had walked the same route that Caroline did in those dark hours before her death. I knew first hand the culture and the mentality of the local people, the attitude of knowing information but keeping quiet. I also grew quite close to Margaret (Caroline's mother) and had seen first hand the devastating impact of years of not knowing who had murdered her child had done to her as well as the horrific loss of her beloved daughter. I wrote all about this previously but the belief for so many years was that the case would never be solved, luckily that belief was wrong and the three murderers are now behind bars where they should stay. 

We often look at the likes of Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer and numerous documentaries and films have been been made about them, but in years to come it will be the serial killers of the 90s and 00s that will be written about as well as them, maybe even more so. With the advances in DNA a lot of cases which occurred in the 90s and early 2000's are currently being solved as well as some being connected to well known serial killers. We have the technology now to go back and test evidence as well as track down relatives of deceased serial killers to test for DNA in a bid to close an unsolved murder case which carried all of their hallmarks. 

So this case which I'm focusing on in this post took place in the early 90s and was only solved in recent times thanks to DNA technology. The murders of two beautiful young women just 10 months apart in Phoenix, Arizona in the timeline of 1992 and 1993 had shocked and horrified anyone who had watched the news and read the papers. Angela Brosso was just about to turn 22 years old the very next day when she decided that she would take her usual bike ride along the beautiful scenic route by Cave Creek Park the night before. This activity was a regular occurrence for Angela but she always had her boyfriend with her. On this rare occasion her boyfriend decided to stay home and continue planning her birthday celebrations as well as making her a cake. Obviously a young woman going for a bike ride late at night would concern a lot of people but because it was a regular routine and there had been times in the past where she'd been on her own and all was fine, she must have thought that this time would be ok too. 

Unfortunately this time, Angela did not return home and panic set in. She was reported missing but the reality of what had happened was quickly apparent. Someone had cruelly murdered Angela in the most gruesome and cold-blooded way. Her remains had been found within hours on the day of her birthday, she had been decapitated and disemboweled, it was a crime scene so sickening that investigators believed the murder to be the work of a serial killer. Whoever murdered Angela had obviously been lying in wait and could possibly have been watching her and her boyfriend cycling previously so knew her routine. The murder looked like that of a fast, frenzied, aggressive attack with a sharp, ragged object. When Angela's remains were originally found, her head was missing. Her head was later found on the 20th of November, nearly two weeks later. With no clue as to who was responsible, the investigators tried to work with the evidence that they had but DNA techniques were still in their infancy at that point. The case remained opened.

Just 10 months after Angela's gruesome murder, a 17 year old girl by the name of Melanie Bernas had been found murdered at the same location where Angela's head at been found. Melanie had not been disemboweled or decapitated like Angela but both had been sexually assaulted before they were murdered or after the fact. Melanie had also had the letters WSC carved into her chest by the unknown killer. DNA evidence found at the scene connected both murders to the same culprit. Both girls had been out riding their bikes at the beauty spot near the Arizona Canal when they were attacked and murdered, the media dubbed the killings ''The Canal Murders''. Both of the bikes have never been found but the DNA collected was kept on file and later entered into the national database. 

As I mentioned before, investigators believed the murders of both Angela and Melanie to be the actions of an unidentified serial killer. The evidence collected together with the perpetrator's DNA sample was kept on file and on the database but for decades there was no match. 

For years the case went unsolved but a big break came in 2015 when investigators discovered a match on the national database. A man named Bryan Patrick Miller came to their attention and he was promptly brought in for questioning and later charged. All of the DNA evidence matched up to him and it turned out that Bryan had quite the background of violence towards women. During his trial (which took years to get up and running due to a series of delays, especially with the covid pandemic) details emerged of his difficult and abusive childhood, he had an addiction to violent porn and BDSM. At the time of the murders (of which he was just 20 years old at the time of the killings) he had been fantasizing bout abducting, sexually assaulting and mutilating women and had written about his fantasies. In later years he went on to marry and have a daughter. 

During his trial his lawyer tried to plead his case trying to gain some sympathy for his client who was clearly a sexual sadist. They were trying to paint him as an abuse survivor who wasn't in his correct frame of mind at the time of the killings due to severe PTSD. Looking at the evidence presented and the gruesome reality of the crimes, it was clear that he had planned these murders and had written about violent fantasies involving sexually assaulting and murdering women since his teens. It was clear he had been a ticking time bomb. The fact he was able to just move on with his life after the murders and start a family shows just how callous he was. He continued on with his life whilst the families and friends of Angela and Melanie suffered. One wonders what it must have been like for Angela's boyfriend who must have felt a huge amount of guilt (even though he wasn't to have known what would happen that night) as well as devastation at what had happened. 

After decades Bryan Patrick Miller was finally found guilty and was given two death sentences. As the murders of Angela and Melanie occurred when he was 20 years old and he wasn't caught until 2015 one wonders if he was connected to any other murders. Some investigators believe he could have started killing in his teen years. Investigators are still looking into other cases that he may have been responsible for. 

I know this was a difficult post to get through and I appreciate that you have made it this far. 

RIP to Angela, Melanie and to any other unknown victims of Bryan Patrick Miller. 

Further Reading & Sources:

Bryan Patrick Miller: Article | AZ Central

Angela & Melanie: Article | The Sun

The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes | Book by Michael Newton

Bryan Patrick Miller: Article | The Mirror

Bryan Patrick Miller: Article | AZ Central

Bryan Patrick Miller: Article | CBS News

Angela & Melanie: Article | The US Sun

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest case and I hope that you will join me next time. In the meanwhile I hope to see you on my socials. Take care and stay safe x 

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