The family of a slain Rockville High School student says she was killed as she was trying to stop a man from committing suicide.
Senior Michelle Miller, 17, of the 5100 block of Russett Road, was found dead Monday morning at the Germantown home of 31-year-old Adam Anthony Arndt, in the 12900 block of Pinnacle Drive. Arndt, a U.S. Army staff sergeant, was also found dead inside the home.
County police are investigating the incident as a murder-suicide, and believe Arndt shot Miller and then himself.
Miller was planning to enter the U.S. Army Reserves after graduating, and Arndt helped recruit her, according to her family.
Arndt contacted Miller Sunday night indicating that he was suicidal, said Tara Brady, Miller’s aunt. “She went over to try to talk him out of it.”
Police found the two shortly after 10 a.m. the next day.
“She died a hero,” Brady told The Gazette Tuesday.
Brady didn’t know the details of their relationship, but said Miller had a picture of Arndt on her cell phone.
Miller planned to begin boot camp at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., in June, and continue her army training in San Antonio, Texas, Brady said. Miller was then going to start a semester late at the University of Arizona, where she would study psychology, Brady said.
“She wanted to council soldiers with [post-traumatic stress disorder] and wounded warriors,” Brady said. “She already started training with the Army and just got her uniform.”
Arndt, a native of Manitowoc, Wis., has served in the Army since October 2003, and was stationed in Korea and Germany and deployed in Turkey for a year before being assigned to an Army recruiting station in Columbia, Md., in January 2011, according to Mark S. Rickert, an Army spokesman. Arndt received several awards and decorations, but Rickert did not have information about whether Arndt had been injured or was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Army regulations forbid any unofficial social contact between recruiters and applicants or recruits, including any type of romantic or sexual conduct, and it is forbidden for anyone who is the subject of a recruiting effort to enter the home of any recruiter. Furthermore, recruiters may not meet recruits or prospective applicants of the opposite gender without another person present at all times.
Recruiters are trained at Fort Jackson, where they are taught the regulations of recruiting and coached in conducting themselves properly in a civilian environments, wrote Kathleen Walker, a spokeswoman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, in an email.
Brady said there was a female recruiter that also worked with Miller, and that Arndt was “a little higher up” in the organization than she was.
Montgomery County Public Schools provided counseling and support services to Rockville students Tuesday.
“This is a very sad day for us, we’re grieving deeply at our school,” Principal Debra S. Munk told reporters. Miller, who played on the school’s varsity lacrosse team, was well-known in the school as a great student, wonderful athlete and a terrific person, Munk said.
Lacrosse coach Caitlin Ulmer described Miller as a bright, enthusiastic young woman.
“Michelle was our firecracker,” Ulmer said. “She made everyone want to be better.” Ulmer wore a T-shirt that read “#1 on the field, #1 in our hearts,” and said Miller’s team members were wearing similar shirts Tuesday as a tribute.
Ulmer said the military seemed like a good fit for Miller. “It’s up, it’s active, it’s about a team. And that really was who Michelle was,” Ulmer said. “She wanted to help people, particularly people who suffered through combat.”
Munk said she didn’t know how Miller and Arndt became acquainted or if they met at the school, but expected that information to be revealed as part of the police investigation.
Military recruiters from all branches of the service come to the school, as with every public high school, Munk said.
Army recruiters typically visit local high schools, but specific routines vary from recruiter to recruiter, Rickert wrote.
A remembrance for Miller was scheduled to be held Tuesday evening at Rockville High School.