Police Arrest Suspect in 1980 Murders, DA Orders Release By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 09, 2005

The Alameda County district attorney’s office Thursday refused to press murder charges against a 42-year-old former Berkeley man accused of killing his parents and sister. 

Berkeley police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies said Edward Michael Mills was then released from the Berkeley Police Department lockup. 

Mills was the son of Al and Jeannie, who had received death threats after they left the People’s Temple cult of the late Rev. Jim Jones, who later committed suicide in Guyana along with more than 900 of his followers. 

The couple and their daughter Daphene were found murdered in the home at 2731 Woolsey St. on Feb. 26, 1980. 

Edward Mills was present in the house, and though police found evidence of gunshot residue on his arms at the time, the young man said he hadn’t heard the gunshots and had been unaware of the killings. 

Okies said police issued an arrest warrant several weeks ago after developing new physical evidence and gathering new statements from key witnesses. 

While conspiracy theorists attributed the slayings to surviving cultists angered at the Mills’s defection, Okies said that evidence developed by the department indicated the crime was unrelated to the cult. 

This was the third high profile murder arrest the Berkeley police have made in recent months only to release the suspect soon after. In August, the Berkeley police arrested two men in the 1970 murder of a city police officer, but dropped charges against them days later. One of the men had been arrested in 2004 for the same crime, but was then also released.t