A 41-year-old Pennsylvania fitness instructor and mother of two was shot and killed earlier this week, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. On Monday evening, shortly after Jacinda Miller arrived to work at the Brandywine YMCA in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, 42-year-old Daniel Cassel reportedly emerged from his vehicle after waiting for her to arrive. Cassel then used a semiautomatic handgun to shoot Miller once. At which point he informed a bystander that they needed to call 911. While police were on their way to the scene, Cassel was said to be pacing back and forth. When police arrived, and just as an officer approached him, Cassel shot himself in the head. Cassel and Miller were both rushed to nearby Brandywine Hospital where each were pronounced dead.
The Brandywine YMCA was closed for a day in Miller’s honor. As a fitness instructor, she was said to be a positive force and motivator. Those who knew her described her as everyone else’s “biggest cheerleader.”
Others who knew Miller also describe her as a devoted mom. A Facebook page appearing to belong to the victim includes several public posts, many of which include photos of her sons with one caption reading “My baby is a senior and what a handsome young man he has become.”
However, despite also being described as always happy and laughing, Miller’s Facebook page includes several public posts and status updates indicating some difficult times. On Oct. 21, she posted “I love how people post how great everything is, hope you don’t get dished out sh*t, you’ll be amazed how things shift!!!!#whatdoesntkillyoumakesyoustronger.” On the same day, only minutes earlier, she posted “Pissed off” and when friends inquired, Miller indicated that she will continue to carry pain that she has become “accustomed to.” Still, and perhaps most sadly, on Oct. 28, less than a week before she was murdered, Miller posted a positive and hopeful status update that said she was “Getting excited” for “New beginnings.”
Estranged ex-boyfriend Cassel had no criminal record and there had been no reports of domestic violence issued between the couple. One person who knew Cassel said he seemed like a “completely normal guy.”
When the incident occurred, the YMCA went into lockdown with approximately 120 employees, parents, and children, held inside while police secured the area outside the building. District Attorney Tom Hogan said the staff did an “excellent job” following protocol during the lockdown and keeping the children calm. Eventually, after about 90 minutes, everyone was released from the building in groups of ten. No shots fired struck the YMCA building itself.
Hogan also thanked the YMCA staff and first responders. He noted the gravity of the tragedy and how domestic violence such as this has “no good explanation.” The act itself has now rendered two boys without a mother.
Before she was killed in the apparent murder-suicide by ex Cassel, the beloved mother and YMCA fitness instructor lived with her two sons, described by a friend as, “her biggest joy.” Now, the boys are said to be in the care of their father, Miller’s ex-husband.
By Jennifer Fernicola Ronay
Photo by Tony Webster – Flickr License