Eric Millerberg has changed his wife’s name to Death in his array of tattoos.
Millerberg is charged with homicide in the September drug overdose death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.
The Weber High School teen was a baby sitter for Millerberg and his wife, Dea, before lapsing into their drug-abusing lifestyle that police say caused her death.
Millerberg’s changing of the “Dea” tattoo on his neck to “Death” was first noticed by prosecutors at his April 9 preliminary hearing. Millerberg sat barely a yard from the witness stand as Dea testified against him.
In describing from the stand a lurid weekend of drugs and three-way sex, she detailed her husband’s injecting the teen with meth and heroin the night she died.
Dea Millerberg is charged with desecration of a corpse for her part in hiding the girl’s body. The remains were recovered in a remote Morgan County location.
Officials were reluctant to comment on the updating of the tattoo and its implications of felony witness tampering, or whether it was meant to intimidate Dea Millerberg.
“We are aware of it. Beyond that, I don’t have a comment,” said Weber County Attorney Dee Smith. “I can’t comment on whether she saw it or mentioned it.”
Eric Millerberg’s public defender, Randall Marshall, was even more close-mouthed, saying, “I don’t have any comment,” in response to questions.
“It took a lot of courage to do what she’s doing,” said Dea’s defense counsel, Mike Bouwhuis, “and that (the tattoo) just makes her actions more courageous.”
Regarding Eric Millerberg’s updating of the tattoo, Bouwhuis said, “I couldn’t speculate to his intentions.”
Eric Millerberg is back in prison, his fifth trip to Point of the Mountain, for violating probation on a drug charge. A trial date is still pending on the homicide charge.
His wife’s case on unrelated drug charges is set for trial in December, with her other cases, including charges in Rasmussen’s death, also pending.
She filed divorce papers against him in February, shortly after they were both charged in the Rasmussen case.
When Eric Millerberg was readmitted to the state prison in early October, his inventory of tattoos included the “Dea” tattoo on his neck, but without the later addition of the letters “T” and “H,” said prison spokesman Steve Gehrke.
Booking information at Weber County Jail, also from early October, lists Millerberg’s 25 specific tattoos, which include numerous references to his membership in a white supremacist gang, homages to Adolph Hitler and repetitions of Millerberg’s nickname, “Rooster.”
His other tattoos are snakes, swastikas, skulls, demons, dragons and, on one palm, the inscription “I’ll hate you better.”
There is also a “Rachael” tattoo, as well as one that directs a sexually explicit obscenity at Rachael in another apparent relationship update in his body art.
When the Dea tattoo was changed can only be speculation, Gehrke said, but inmate tattooing is an ongoing concern at the prison.
“Some offenders manipulate their property to build their own makeshift tattooing materials,” he said. “It is against prison policy to do this, or to tattoo while in custody.”
Inmates face sanctions such as a fine or a change in their privilege levels or housing status, Gehrke said.
“There is obviously a health risk associated with contraband tattooing, as diseases can be passed around and infections can result.”
Weber County Jail Capt. Kevin Burton said he doubts Millerberg updated the Dea tattoo during any brief stays in the jail when transported from prison for court hearings in Ogden.
Prisoners are checked regularly enough, he said, that tattoo kits are found “before they get around to doing a lot of tattoos. We find pieces and parts, like pens they use for ink. They’ll use the little electric motors from a clock-radio” as an applicator.
Ink can be drawn from newspapers, Burton said.