A man who allegedly shot and killed an Ohio mother of two was living in her basement at the time — with her blessing — because he needed a place to stay, according to the victim’s employer.
Lance Miller, 32, stands accused of one count each of murder and kidnapping for the Aug. 18 death of Kaitlyn Lynch, 36, according to a press release from the Cincinnati Police Department.
While the motive for the slaying is not known, the suspect and victim were reportedly well-acquainted with one another.
After responding to a report about shots fired, Cincinnati police determined that Lynch had likely been taken against her will by the same person who stole her car. The ensuing investigation and manhunt spilled across state lines and involved law enforcement from both Kentucky and Tennessee. Officers finally caught up with the vehicle after a chase through multiple counties in the Volunteer State.
Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office deputies, using spike strips, brought the car to a halt the next day and arrested the driver, later identified as Miller. Inside the car was a sadder and grimmer find — Lynch’s corpse in the front seat.
“She was willing to help everyone,” the victim’s final employer, attorney James Hartke, told The Enquirer on Thursday. “He had fallen on hard times, and she offered to let him stay in her basement.”
Lynch had recently fallen on some hard times herself, the attorney told the newspaper. With two daughters from a previous marriage, she re-married in the fall of 2022, but her new husband died unexpectedly earlier this year from a medical condition. She was a legal client of Hartke’s firm at first. Then, he hired her for secretarial work in April.
Miller was one of her recently deceased husband’s friends, the attorney told the Enquirer.
The suspect, from Texas, had come to Cincinnati by way of Oklahoma roughly six days before the murder, Hartke said.
Last Friday, the day of the fatal shooting, the boss, the new secretary, and the man living in her basement all had drinks together — along with other employees at the law firm. Hartke told the paper that nothing seemed amiss to him — but in hindsight, said Miller had rubbed others the wrong way. The attorney recalled that some office people said Miller maybe had unrequited romantic feelings for Lynch.
Lynch was reportedly on the phone with the friend, mentioned that Miller had a gun, and then the line went dead, Hartke said.
A GoFundMe, started by the victim’s family, offers the following account of her final moments: “Kaitlyn was shot and killed inside her car parked outside of her home in Ohio. The suspect, someone she knew, then made his way into the driver seat, with Kaitlyn left dying in the passenger seat, and he began driving.”
The fundraiser is intended to bring Lynch’s remains to her family in New York and pay for a memorial service — with any remaining funds to be distributed to her daughters, 7 and 8.
“We are in complete disbelief that this has happened to our Kaitlyn,” the GoFundMe reads. “Anyone who knew Kaitlyn knew how much she loved being a mom to her two beautiful daughters and how she was always willing to lend a hand. She was funny, beautiful, determined, and she will be deeply missed by all.”
The suspect is being detained in Tennessee and awaiting extradition to Ohio.
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