Status report

YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

Investigating Officer(s): Det. T. Armstrong, Det. S. Murphy
Incident No.: 004651-29J-2020
Case Description: Frederick Miller death investigation


INVESTIGATION STATUS REPORT SUMMARY
All detailed reports on file.

October 29, 2020

Witness interviews

Three people at the scene claimed to be eyewitnesses to the death of Frederick Miller in the Faith and Glory Community Church parking lot.

Cheryl Harris, the 911 caller, said she was driving onto the church property when she and her passenger, Angie Jennings, saw Miller fall to the ground. Harris was initially cooperative when Detective Armstrong was speaking with her, but she became increasingly standoffish and defensive, particularly when asked to provide fingerprint and DNA samples. At one point, she took out her cell phone as if she was going to start filming the interaction but put it away without doing so.

Angie Jennings generally corroborated Harris's description of events but gave a more detailed description of the possible perpetrator. When speaking with Detective Murphy, Jennings was cooperative but appeared shaken and upset.

Jeremy Willis appeared intoxicated and had alcohol on his breath during his initial interaction with Deputy Watson, so Willis was secured in the back of a patrol car to sober up before being interviewed. When Detectives Armstrong and Murphy spoke to Willis, he appeared to be mostly sober. Willis also claimed to have seen the perpetrator, but his description of the person was only partially consistent with the descriptions given by Harris and Jennings. When Deputy Watson ran Willis's name on their system, records showed that Willis's driver's license is suspended due to a conviction for driving under the influence.

Investigative action:

Canvass the area around the church to determine whether anyone else saw or heard anything on the evening of October 29 that is potentially relevant to the investigation.

October 30, 2020

Witness interview

Detective Murphy interviewed Caroline Miller at the home she shared with her husband, Frederick Miller, and their daughter, Elizabeth. Caroline was cooperative and helpful despite her emotional state of grief and shock. Detective Murphy observed that there were moments during the interview where Caroline seemed confused by her own answers.

Investigative action:

Verify Caroline's alibi. 

Interview choir director Nathaniel Huggins, who Caroline identified as someone who regularly butted heads with the victim.

Witness interview

Detective Armstrong interviewed Elizabeth "Lizzie" Miller at the residence of her parents, Caroline Miller and the victim, Frederick Miller. She seemed cooperative but defensive at times. As Detective Armstrong left, she broke down in tears and was comforted by her mother.

Investigative action:

Verify Lizzie's alibi.

Interview archery head coach Travis Lancaster and archery team member Jimmy, who Lizzie cited as people who had conflicts with the victim.

Learn more about Lizzie's relationship with Marc Huddleston in preparation for a future interview with Huddleston.

Search

The detectives searched Frederick Miller's home and took several items into evidence. During the search, the detectives noticed a number of self-help books in the bookshelf in Frederick's study, such as "An Imperfect Union: How to Make Marriage Work When Things Get Tough," "Kids These Days: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Change Them for the Better," and "The Total Moron's Guide to Sports Betting."

On the study wall were framed "Perfect Attendance" certificates, apparently dating to Frederick Miller's school years.

On the top shelf of the bookcase in his study were two glass specimen bottles containing biological samples in formaldehyde. One held a fetal pig, and another contained a squid. On the wall of his study was an anatomical diagram of a human, and another showed the frog life cycle.

On Frederick Miller's desk was a metal plaque that had the following quote "Hell is full of musical amateurs - Bernard Shaw."

In the back of a desk drawer were numerous snacks, including an unopened bag of pork rinds and an assortment of only red and yellow Starbursts.

Investigative action:

In light of the envelope of receipts taken into evidence, find out more about Frederick's relationship with his wife.

Witness interviews

Deputy P.J. Watson and Officer Maria Richards interviewed Frederick Miller's neighbors. All were cooperative. Karen Clark expressed concern about Frederick's murder, remarking as the officers were leaving that she had moved away from the city to get away from such crimes.

Deputy Watson reported that he observed a teen couple walking around holding hands in the neighborhood the night of October 30 at approximately 10:00 p.m., but an urgent call took him away before he could speak to them.

Investigative action:

Question more neighbors in the area to see if they know the white truck's owner. Ask patrol officers to keep an eye out for said truck as they patrol the area.

Witness interviews

Detective Murphy interviewed Lyle Nelson at the Happy Hunter to get more information about the arrow used in the murder. Nelson was cooperative and eager to share his knowledge about archery. During the interview, Nelson revealed that he was friends with Frederick Miller.

Investigative action:

Review Happy Hunter records of who has purchased arrows like the one used to kill Frederick Miller.

Research arrow found at the crime scene to see if there is a recommended strike distance and determine the accuracy of these arrows at different distances.

Ask Frederick's co-workers for the names of any students he was having trouble with.

Get more information about the relationship between Lizzie Miller and Marc Huddleston.

Witness interviews

All employees of Faith and Glory Community Church were interviewed. Only two seemed to have potentially relevant information.

Church secretary Donna Palmer was interviewed in the main church office by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy. Before the interview, Donna Palmer asked to speak off the record about things people were saying that she had heard or overheard. She was informed that everything would be on the record, as is standard investigative protocol.

Choir director Nathaniel Huggins was cooperative and forthcoming, readily acknowledging that he and Frederick Miller had multiple disagreements over the years, as other witnesses had reported.

Investigative action:

Follow up with Stephanie Bragg about the story she related to Donna Palmer about the conflict between Frederick Miller and Marc Huddleston.

Verify Donna Palmer's alibi.

Talk to Donna Palmer's husband about his wife's friendship with Caroline Miller.

Talk to Darla Collins about her interaction with Frederick Miller on the night of October 29.

Verify Nathaniel Huggins' alibi.

Check with Pastor Roberts to find out who he notified on the night of October 29 about Frederick Miller's death.

Witness interviews

Detective Murphy and Detective Armstrong canvassed the victim's co-workers, who were generally cooperative. Steve Dutton was noted as having an odd smirk at times during the interview and seemed not to be saddened by what happened. Jean Holbrook showed disdain for the victim and didn't seem surprised as to what happened to him.

Investigative action:

Interview Travis Lancaster about Frederick Miller's behavior and actions as assistant coach.

Interview Jimmy Bragg about his interactions with Frederick Miller.

Interview Marc Huddleston about his relationship with Frederick Miller.

October 31, 2020

Alibi checks

Caroline Miller said she was doing yoga at the Yoknapatawpha County Library, followed by a visit to Square Books. Deputy Willits and Deputy Watson interviewed library employees and were unable to find anyone who could verify that Caroline was at a yoga class on the night of October 29, 2020.

Lizzie Miller said she was at High Point Coffee studying at the time her father was killed. Deputy Willits and Deputy Watson spoke to coffee shop employees and found no one who could confirm that Lizzie was there on the night of October 29, 2020.

The deputies noted that there were no cameras or other surveillance equipment present in either the library or the coffee shop that could have corroborated either alibi.

Investigative action:

Re-interview both Caroline Miller and Lizzie Miller to determine their actual whereabouts at the time Frederick Miller was killed.

Witness interviews

The detectives went to the high school on Saturday to talk to people associated with the archery team that Frederick Miller helped coach. The archery team did practice that day, although Lizzie Miller did not attend.

The head archery coach, Travis Lancaster, related that Frederick Miller had numerous conflicts with various parents and students. Lancaster was an affable individual whose demeanor was relaxed throughout the interview.

Eddie House, the school custodian, was also at the high school that day. House told Detective Murphy he witnessed Frederick Miller arguing with his wife days before the murder. The detective observed that House seemed to be of average intelligence but spoke in a strange cadence and rhythm at times throughout the interview.

Investigative action:

Find out if anyone else knew about Frederick Miller's reported plan to catch the alleged cheating student. 

Re-interview Caroline Miller about the state of her marriage.

Re-interview Stephanie Bragg about her relationship with Frederick Miller and how he treated her son.

November 1, 2020

Witness interview

Detective Murphy and Detective Armstrong re-interviewed Caroline Miller at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department and asked her about her alibi, which she had not been initially truthful about. 

Caroline was relaxed at the beginning of the interview but was observed getting more upset as it progressed. Both detectives noticed Caroline dab sweat off of her brow with her hand a few times during the end of the interview.

Investigative action:

Re-interview Lyle Nelson about his relationship with the Miller family. Find out what he knows about the state of the Millers' marriage.

Witness interview

Lizzie Miller was interviewed at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department by Detective Murphy. The detective observed that although Lizzie was still visibly upset, she was in a calmer psychological state than when the detectives saw her at her home two days prior. 

After Lizzie revealed that she had not been entirely honest in the first interview, she became markedly more relaxed. Her previous posture of sitting with her arms and legs tightly crossed became looser and more natural.

Investigative action:

Re-interview Lyle Nelson about his enjoyment of hunting.

Witness interview

Detective Armstrong interviewed Jimmy Bragg at Yoknapatawpha High School, where Jimmy had been running on the track. 

Jimmy was cooperative throughout the interview but seemed to be resentful of how Frederick Miller treated him. Detective Armstrong noted that Jimmy seemed removed and unemotional during the interview. 

Jimmy corroborated Lizzie Miller's assertion that Frederick Miller was one to hold a grudge, as Jimmy Bragg considered himself someone that Frederick Miller singled out consistently.

Investigative action:

Re-interview Stephanie Bragg about Frederick Miller's treatment of her son.

Witness interview

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed Stephanie Bragg at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. 

Stephanie was relaxed at the beginning of the interview. However, she became agitated after learning that her son was questioned without her knowledge and abruptly terminated the interview. Her reaction was so strong that both detectives were shocked.

Investigative action:

Interview Marc Huddleston's ongoing relationship with Elizabeth Miller.

Report filed 11/1/2020, 6:30 p.m. by Det. T. Armstrong, 615, and Det. S. Murphy, 633


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