4 Charged in Case of July 4 Murder, Explosion in West Haven and Hamden

Four West Haven residents are facing charges in connection with the July 4 murder of their housemate, who was found wrapped in plastic and "literally blown up" in a remote area of Hamden, according to state and federal officials.

Christopher Miller, 40; Deborah Miller, 59; Natali Martinez-Sanchez, 29; and James Bryant, 64; all of 59 Front Avenue in West Haven, were arrested Monday as part of the investigation into the death of their 39-year-old housemate.

Christopher Miller has been charged with his murder.

The victim, Edward Brooks, was found wrapped in a plastic bag and tied with rope at West Rock State Park in Hamden on the Fourth of July, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Police found his body while investigating the report of an explosion nearby on Wintergreen Avenue.

Investigators revealed at a press conference Monday that Brooks was shot and killed at his home in West Haven, then dumped in Hamden.

Then, "literally, he was blown up with an explosive device," according to U.S. Attorney Dierdre Daly.

In the days after Brooks' death, investigators searched his home at 59 Front Avenue in West Haven. Federal authorities said Brooks' housemates were "subjects of an ongoing narcotics investigation" but wouldn't comment Monday on how long they had been under scrutiny.

During the search, investigators found materials used to make pipe bombs, which matched the device used to "blow up" Brooks' body, federal prosecutors said. Authorities also uncovered about 16 grams of crack cocaine, 10.6 grams of methamphetamine and drug packaging materials.

"A little over a week later, the individuals believed to be responsible for this horrific crime have been identified and apprehended, as have individuals who helped ‘clean up’ and try to conceal this violent murder," Daly said.

Christopher Miller was arrested Monday on the following state and federal charges:

  • Murder (state)
  • Conspiracy to commit murder (state)
  • Second-degree hindering prosecution (state)
  • Interfering with an officer (state)
  • Criminal use of a firearm (state)
  • Criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
  • Criminal use of a firearm to commit a felony (state)
  • Tampering with evidence (state)
  • Three counts of risk of injury to a minor (state)
  • Convicted felon in possession of an explosive device (federal)

He appeared in court Monday and was held on $1 million bond. State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor said Christopher Miller has been appointed a public defender but did not know the defender's name.

Federal authorities have charged both Deborah Miller and Martinez-Sanchez conspiring to distribute crack cocaine and methamphetamine. Daly said Deborah Miller is Christopher Miller's mother and Martinez-Sanchez is his girlfriend.

The state charged Bryant and Martinez-Sanchez with second-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

Authorities are searching for a fifth person – Maurice Wearing, 26 – in connection with the crime. It's not clear what charges he will face, but Lawlor said Wearing has been linked to the murder.

Investigators have not commented on a possible motive.

It's not clear if Bryant, Martinez-Sanchez or Deborah Miller has an attorney.

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