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Man arrested in death of woman found in rural ditch

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Ted Sullivan
February 2, 2011

A Racine County man was arrested Tuesday in the death of a missing woman found in a ravine in rural Avon Township.


Keith M. Abbott, 47, Sturtevant, was arrested at his business, Creative Woods, in Sturtevant, Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.


Abbott is suspected of killing Kristin S. Miller, 33, who had been reported missing Jan. 1 to the Sturtevant Police Department, Spoden said.


Miller was found dead Monday in a wooded area near the southwest corner of Nelson and North Avon Townline roads.


Miller appeared to be unclothed, investigators said, and she was found covered in snow.


It is unknown whether she was sexually assaulted, Spoden said.


Rock County investigators learned that Miller was missing, he said. Racine County sheriff’s detectives were investigating her disappearance as a homicide.


Miller’s body was identified during an autopsy Tuesday at the Dane County morgue. A comparison of the descriptions of the body and the missing woman helped with identification, Spoden said.


The autopsy revealed Miller’s cause of death to be a homicide, although specific fatal injuries remain under investigation, he said.


Racine County investigators arrested Abbott shortly after Rock County identified Miller, Spoden said.


“Our detectives have been working with the Racine County Sheriffs Office since late last night and early this morning,” he said.


Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling told the Racine Journal Times that the homicide investigation is still active and that he couldn’t release many details.


Miller has a 2-year-old daughter with Abbott’s son, the Journal Times reported. Abbot was chosen to work with his son and Miller when transferring the girl between parents.


Cheri Miller, Kristin’s sister, of Winthrop Harbor, Ill., told the Journal Times that she knew the chances of finding Kristin alive were slim.


“We’ve always known,” Cheri said. “It was just a matter of finding her … we’re devastated by what happened.”


Kristin also has an 11-yearold son, the Journal Times reported. Both children have been living with their fathers.


The family is angry with Abbott, whom they’ve never met, the Journal Times reported.


“For him to sit on this for three weeks...” Cheri said. “His granddaughter has no mother. It’s someone’s family.


“We want justice to be served. There’s two kids that now have no mother.”


About eight deputies worked the 50-square-foot crime scene where Miller was found, Spoden said. Investigators used shovels to collect snow around the body. They then sifted through snow for evidence.


Miller’s body was frozen, which helped preserve evidence, Spoden said. Warmer weather would have resulted in more body decomposition, making the investigation more difficult.


Schmaling told the Journal Times that he is recommending the Racine County District Attorney’s Office file homicide charges against Abbott. He said he expects charges to be filed soon.



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