Dodging Google? Convicted rapist Jeffrey Kitze’s name change draws attention of victims rights advocates

Jeffrey Miller, formerly known as Jeffrey Kitze. Photo: Virginia Department of Corrections Jeffrey Miller, formerly known as Jeffrey Kitze. Photo: Virginia Department of Corrections

The man known as the “graduation day rapist” has quietly changed his name, a move that prosecutors and victims rights advocates fear could help a dangerous predator conceal his violent past.

On October 28, Buckingham County Circuit Court judge Kimberly S. White approved a second petition by Jeffrey Theodore Kitze to become legally known as Jeffrey Ted Miller, after Miller attributed the name change to an effort to “disassociate himself from the paternal side of his family.”

That explanation doesn’t ease the concerns of Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford, who said that given the violent nature of Miller’s decades-old crime, the 1989 rape and beating of his sister’s UVA Law School roommate, and a series of more recent probation violations that have landed him back behind bars, his victim deserves formal notification that her assailant has a different name.

“No notice has been given to the Commonwealth or the victim,” said Lunsford, who was tipped off to the name change by Miller’s probation officer, who she said discovered the petition as he reviewed files. According to Lunsford, while the law does require a convicted sex offender to register his new name on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry—something Miller has done—it does not require direct notification of victims.

“That’s kind of a problem,” Lunsford said, imagining a scenario in which a victim is contacted by her assailant and doesn’t realize with whom she’s communicating.

Lunsford is not the only one bothered by Miller’s new name.

“I think it sounds like an incredibly dangerous situation,” said Rebecca Weybright, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, agreeing that the new name not only could make it easier for Miller to contact his previous victim—it could also prevent women he encounters in the future from learning about his criminal record before becoming involved with him.

That’s because an Internet search of the name “Jeffrey Miller” gives no reason for concern: among the men with that name are a caterer, a professor, a writer, and one of the four victims of the 1970 National Guard shooting at Kent State University. Google the name “Jeffrey Kitze,” however, and it’s a different story: a mugshot and nearly a dozen stories bearing headlines with the words “rapist” and “stalking,” detailing his recent behavior with women as well as the chilling attack on his sister’s roommate.

In that case, Miller, then a resident of New York, had come to Charlottesville to see his sister graduate from UVA Law School in May 1989. The day after the graduation, Miller and his sister set out in separate cars to head back to New York. After he’d driven half a mile, Miller turned around, went back to the apartment and attacked her roommate, who had just taken a shower. He pulled her out of the bathroom by the hair, then struck her in the head with a tire iron before and after raping her, according to records from the Supreme Court of Virginia. He testified he had done so because he had an “irresistible impulse” and blamed his behavior on two previous head injuries that had changed his personality.

Miller was first convicted of rape and malicious wounding in 1990, according to court records. That conviction was overturned on appeal, and in 1994, he pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to 50 years with 15 suspended. Because the crime occurred before former Virginia Governor George Allen repealed parole in 1995, he was released in January 2009, after serving 20 years.

It didn’t take long for Miller to find trouble again.

Soon after his release, he began volunteering with several local nonprofits including Food Not Bombs, where his interactions with one woman led to stalking charges. Although she testified he’d continued to contact her by phone and mail after she’d instructed him to stay away from her—and that evidence from his GPS-equipped ankle bracelet showed he had likely even entered her home while she was sleeping—a jury acquitted him, claiming his behavior, while inappropriate, did not rise to the level required for a stalking conviction.

That woman was not the only one frightened by Miller’s post-incarceration behavior.

Complaints by several female volunteers with Virginia Organizing Project resulted in Miller being convicted of a probation violation in October 2011. And although he was acquitted of the stalking charge, his behavior towards the woman in that case resulted in a second probation violation conviction for Miller and landed him back behind bars in the Dillwyn Correctional Center, where he remains.

According to Richmond-based Parole Board Administrator Joan Wade, with good behavior, he is eligible for release on August 20, 2018. That release, however, could come even earlier, Wade said, since Miller has parole hearings every six months, with the next one scheduled for the late spring.

Through Virginia Department of Corrections spokesperson Larry Traylor, Miller declined to comment on his name change. Lunsford said she has taken steps to notify his victim.

Miller is not the first sex offender to change his name and raise concerns. In 2010, a sex offender in New Jersey who had changed his name and gotten a job working for the U.S. Census was outed after an eagle-eyed mother recognized him from that state’s sex offender registry. Sex offenders are barred from working in that capacity.

And in January 2012, a convicted sex offender who’d changed his name in Hillsboro, Oregon, was discovered working out in the same gym where he had molested young girls in the gym’s day care. James Tyler Lupoli had legally changed his last name to Miller three months earlier.

Correction: George Allen repealed parole in 1995.