Police looking for link between ISU student killer and IU murder cold case

Jeffrey Lynn Hand (Terre Haute Police Department)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) — State police are now looking to solve an Indiana cold case after recent discoveries led police to finding the killer of Indiana State University student Pam Milam.

Police identified Jeffrey Lynn Hand as the person who killed Milam in 1972. Investigators used a series of DNA testing starting in 2008 and a 2017 composite of the possible killer to lead them to Hand.

Hand died in 1978 when a police officer saw him trying to abduct a woman. He shot the officer, then another officer shot and killed him.

He had also already been suspected of killing a man in 1973. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Now, Indiana State Police is looking at Hand's DNA profile to see if there's a link to the murder of an Indiana University student whose body was found in 1977. Investigators say the timeline adds up.

Police took Hand into custody shortly after Milam's murder and stayed in custody from June 1973 until June 1976. Fifteen months after he was released — in September 1977 — IU student Ann Harmeier disappeared. According to our news gathering partners at the Kokomo Tribune, a farmer found Harmeier's decomposing body while harvesting corn near Martinsville in October 1977. Four months later, Hand was killed in that Kokomo shootout.

The Tribune reports journalists at the time recalled Harmeier's disappearance happened during Hand's freedom — from being released from a psychiatric hospital in June 1976 until his death in January 1978.

The ISP detectives in Bloomington are "very interested" in seeing Hand's DNA profile, Terre Haute Police Chief Shawn Keen told the Tribune.

Sgt. Curt Durnil of the Bloomington ISP post said the department will be looking for a possible connection.