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.

November 2, 2020

Witness interviews

Deputy Watson followed up with church choir member Darla Collins. She said Frederick Miller was always a little prickly, but she had never seen him quite as testy as he was on October 29.

Darla said Frederick had singled her out because she was singing flat on two notes in a section of a song. She said Frederick made her stand by the piano and sing all alone while he repeatedly struck the two keys corresponding to the two notes she was missing. She said this went on for nearly ten minutes until she asked to be excused for a moment, at which time Frederick told her she could be excused for eternity for all he cared.

Darla then went to her car, where she listened to an affirmation podcast for ten minutes or so, and then she returned to choir practice. She said Frederick did not acknowledge her as she entered the room, and he made no eye contact with her for the remainder of the practice.

Darla said she did not bear a grudge against Frederick for his behavior that night because she knew he just wanted the choir to excel. 

Investigative action:

None needed.

Witness interviews

Investigators canvassed the area surrounding Faith and Glory Community Church to determine whether anyone had seen or heard anything suspicious on the evening of October 29. No one interviewed noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Bart Bigley owns a home adjacent to the large trash bins on the southwestern side of the church. He said he heard the bang of the trash bin lid closing when he took his dog out around 8:30 p.m. but added that it wasn’t unusual to hear the church people throwing away the trash. Otherwise, the church was a conscientious neighbor.

Investigative action:

None needed.

Alibi checks

Nathaniel Huggins — Officers Richards and Vittel spoke with Pastor Franklin Roberts regarding his interaction with Nathaniel Huggins on October 29, 2020.

Pastor Roberts said he called Nathaniel at the Hugginses' home number at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the 29th to tell him that Frederick Miller had been killed. Pastor Roberts said Nathaniel answered the phone and said the conversation lasted around five minutes. He described Nathaniel's reaction to the news as flabbergasted.

Officers Richards and Vittel also visited Nathaniel Huggins's wife, Laura, at their residence, 2152 Anderson Road. Laura said her husband had returned home promptly after choir practice, arriving about 8:15 p.m.

She remembered because she had made chicken and dumplings for dinner, one of Nathan's all-time favorites, and he hurried in the door just as she finished setting the table. Laura said they were home all evening, and as they were getting ready for bed around 11:00 p.m., Pastor Roberts called and told Nathan about Frederick.

Donna Palmer — Deputy Watson obtained credit card receipts from Donna Palmer for Granny’s Diner, with a timestamp of 7:51 p.m., and for Walgreens Pharmacy, with a timestamp of 8:38 p.m., for the purchase of products to relieve indigestion.

At 7:00 p.m., Deputy Watson went to Granny’s Diner to see if anyone remembered the Palmers being there on the evening of October 29. Waitress Kat Edwards said she was working that night. She confirmed that the Palmers had eaten there. She said she knew the Palmers because they used to be regulars but hadn’t been in for a couple of months. Ms. Edwards said that they arrived at their usual time, 7:00 p.m., and left around 8:00 p.m.

Deputy Watson also went to the Walgreens to speak with employees there. Night manager Keith Abberton checked the work schedule, but none of the employees working on the 29th were on duty. Deputy Watson reviewed security footage, which showed Donna Palmer entering the store at 8:26 p.m. and subsequently making a purchase.

Investigative action:

None needed.

November 3, 2020

BOLO

Officers patrolling the area of Frederick Miller’s neighborhood reported no sightings of the white pickup truck to date.

Investigative action:

BOLO to remain in effect.

Witness interviews

Deputy P.J. Watson and Officer Maria Richards returned to the victim’s neighborhood to follow up with area residents. None of the neighbors interviewed reported seeing it. Investigators provided residents with contact information and requested that they call investigators should they notice the truck in the neighborhood again.

Investigative action:

None planned.

Alibi checks

Lizzie Miller — Witness statements appear to partially confirm Lizzie's whereabouts, but the lack of specificity regarding the actual time of some of these witness encounters combined with her initial false alibi suggest the reliability of Lizzie's alibi remains questionable.

Caroline Miller — Witness statements confirm Caroline's claim that she was at the bookstore until 6:30 p.m., but her whereabouts after 6:30 p.m. remain unverified. This uncorroborated period of time, combined with her initial false alibi, suggests the reliability of Caroline's alibi remains questionable.

Investigative action:

Continue efforts to uncover witnesses or other information that will confirm or refute the Millers' alibis.

Surveillance

During the surveillance of Marc Huddleston, investigators noted that, in general, when Marc was with a group of friends, he acted upbeat and friendly, but when he was alone, he appeared to be more sullen. This sullen behavior was most noticeable during Marc's extended conversation at the bowling alley with Person 2, described in the report as M, Caucasian, 16, 5'9, 160, light brown hair.

As requested, investigators were able to recover a sample of Mr. Huddleston's fingerprints and DNA, which are being rush processed.

Investigative action:

Continue surveillance on Marc Huddleston as a person of interest.

November 4, 2020

Forensics

Marc Huddleston's fingerprints were identified on evidence collected at the crime scene. Results were forwarded to the assigned prosecutor. DNA comparison is expected to take several more days minimum.

Investigative action:

Re-interview Marc Huddleston.

Witness interview

Marc Huddleston was unable to explain the presence of his fingerprints on evidence from the crime scene or the presence of his archery pin at the crime scene. At the beginning of the interview, Marc's demeanor was constrained, but as the interview progressed, he became contrite and grasped for explanations.

Based on the forensic evidence combined with Mr. Huddleston’s unverifiable alibi, archery skills, and motive, Marc was detained on suspicion of murder despite reservations about the sustainability of the allegations.

Investigative action:

Search the Huddleston residence for evidence related to the death of Frederick Miller.

Witness interview

While at the Huddleston residence to execute the search warrant, Marc Huddleston's father, Donald Huddleston, was briefly interviewed. Mr. Huddleston was visibly upset throughout the interview. His tone throughout was curt. His attitude at times bordered on uncooperative, as some of his answers were sarcastic. Mr. Huddleston expressed his displeasure that his son was detained and ended the interview to pick up his daughter from middle school.

Investigative action:

Follow up with Donald Huddleston when he is in a calmer state of mind.

Search

The Huddleston residence was searched, and a number of items were taken into evidence. While searching the residence, investigators noticed a stack of magazines on the floor of Marc Huddleston’s bedroom. Five were Bowhunter magazines from 2019. Each magazine had pages that were dogeared. In the middle of the stack was a 2018 Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Taped on the back of the closet door was a used target with six holes in and around the center ring. At the top of the target was a handwritten note made with a black marker that said, "Right through the blowhole."

Investigative action:

None needed until the Crime Lab has processed the evidence collected.

Sales records

Deputy Willits visited the Happy Hunter to review purchase records for 60X Series Buck Buster carbon arrows with G5 Montec 85 gram broadheads.

The following special orders for this arrow have been made since January 1, 2019.

  • 2019, January 18 — Manuel Alvarez, one 6-count package
  • 2019, March 4 — Bruce Couch, one 6-count package
  • 2019, April 26 — Bruce Couch, one 12-count package
  • 2019, October 12 — Donald Huddleston, one 12-count package
  • 2019, November 30 — Steven Sidlow, one 12-count package
  • 2019, December 15 — Penelope Peterson, two 12-count packages
  • 2020, January 13 — Steven Sidlow, one 6-count package
  • 2020, September 7 — Bruce Couch, one 6-count package
  • 2020, September 19 — Donald Huddleston, one 6-count package
  • 2020, October 27 — Daniel Sanders, one 6-count package

Investigative action:

Contact the buyers to determine how much contact, if any, they had with Frederick Miller.

November 5, 2020

Suspect detention

Detention personnel observed that since Marc Huddleston was taken into custody, he has not eaten a full meal. He was offered a dinner meal but ate nothing following his intake yesterday. This morning, Marc ate two pieces of toast with a small carton of milk.

Just after lights out on November 4, detention personnel reported hearing what sounded like Marc quietly crying, which continued for approximately half an hour. In the morning, Marc was observed sitting up in his bunk. It did not appear as if he had slept.

Investigative action:

Continue to monitor Marc Huddleston's well-being while in custody.

Witness interview

With his father's consent, the detectives re-interviewed Jimmy Bragg because his name has come up multiple times during the investigation. Jimmy was anxious throughout the interview, nervously answering and then changing his answers to some questions.

Jimmy's admission during this interview to cheating in Frederick Miller's class raises the possibility of additional viable suspects who may need to be considered.

Investigative action:

Identify others affected by Jimmy's actions and how that may relate to potential motives in the death of Frederick Miller.

Witness interview

At the conclusion of their interview with Jimmy Bragg, the detectives asked his father, Paul Bragg, if he would be willing to stay and speak with them. Paul said he had to take his son home but agreed to stay for a short interview.

At the beginning of his interview, Paul was composed and showed genuine concern for his son. As the interview progressed, his disbelief was apparent, but he remained cooperative and helpful throughout.

Investigative action:

Contact the Pizza Hut restaurant regarding their purchase records for the evening of October 29, 2020.

Interview Pizza Hut employees regarding customers served on the evening of October 29, 2020.

Re-interview Stephanie Bragg.

Suspect charges

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy met with ADA Calvin Dollarhide regarding Marc Huddleston's detention and the potential charges. 

The district attorney's office is concerned that the unidentified fingerprints on evidence from the crime scene, particularly on the bow and on the arrow, could make it difficult to get a conviction at trial. Until those fingerprints are identified or other evidence conclusively ruling out all other potential suspects is uncovered, the DA believes sufficient reasonable doubt exists and declines to file charges against Marc.

Barring the discovery of any other incriminating evidence within the next 12 hours, the YCSD will release Marc without charge on the DA's recommendation.

Investigative action:

Continue investigation of Marc Huddleston as a suspect until he can be ruled out or all other suspects can be eliminated.

Report filed 11/5/2020, 7:30 p.m. by Det. T. Armstrong, 615, and Det. S. Murphy, 633


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