Couple Found Shot Minutes Before Child Abuse Hearing
STUART, Fla. (AP) _ A couple charged with abusing their 4-year-old niece by strapping her to a board were found shot in the head, just minutes before a judge was to hear evidence that they plotted to firebomb prosecution witnesses.
The wife was killed and her husband was in intensive care this morning with a bullet lodged in his brain.
Wesley Miller, 46, underwent surgery and was in serious condition today, said a supervisor at St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach.
Investigators believe Miller, a paraplegic, and his wife, Rose, 32, planned their deaths, but would not speculate whether it was an attempted double suicide or murder-suicide. The couple had threatened suicide last week, court records showed. Police found at least one handgun at the scene.
The Millers were shot late Tuesday afternoon outside their attorney’s office while he was across the street at the courthouse preparing for a hearing to revoke the couple’s bond on the child-abuse charges.
Prosecutors planned to play a tape recording of a conversation between Rose Miller and an undercover Martin County sheriff’s deputy in which she allegedly offered him $1,200 to firebomb the home of the Millers’ neighbors in exclusive Hobe Sound, just north of West Palm Beach.
The neighbors, Kevin and Terry Crawley, and the Millers had a long-running feud, including several incidents in which the couples filed criminal complaints against each other.
″It’s hard to believe it’s over after all these years,″ Kevin Crawley said Tuesday.
The Crawleys said the Millers shot out their house lights, threatened them, tampered with their mail and shot pellet guns at them and their 5-year-old daughter.
The Crawleys also were witnesses in the child-abuse case involving the Miller’s niece, Cassandra Hedrick. Kevin Crawley had used a radio scanner to listen in and tape conversations the Millers had on a cordless telephone.
The couple allegedly talked about strapping Cassandra to a board and how the police would not be able to prove they did anything wrong.
Cassandra was hospitalized in January with bruises and infected cuts over most of her body. She has lived in a foster home since.
After a six-month investigation, the Millers and Cassandra’s mother, Vicky Hedrick, 31, were charged. The Millers and Hedrick insisted they were innocent - that Cassandra was mentally ill and inflicted the injuries on herself.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hedrick and the Millers were seen outside their attorney’s office, Miller in his wheelchair.
″I saw Vicky give Wes a kiss, and she was crying,″ Patsy Reiss, a legal assistant in a nearby attorney’s office, said. ″Then Vicky took off in their car.″
Moments later, gunshots were heard.
In the parking lot they found Rose Miller lying on her back; Wesley Miller was slumped in his wheelchair, blood on his face and shirt and a handgun on the ground beside him.