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After 30 years of searching, the Texan sent to prison a suspect in the murder of his daughter. Accusing him of another murder

It seems that the personal story of Tim Miller’s quest for justice has come to an end, but he still helps the police investigate complex cases.

Tim Miller sits in the office next to the portrait of his daughter Laura. At the time of her death, she was 16 years old. Photos The Huffington Post

“Highway to hell” – so among police and detectives called the I-45 motorway in Texas, which stretches from Dallas in the north and south of Houston. It was there that for years they found bodies that sometimes could not even be identified. Journalists and police believe that from the 1970s to the 2000s, at least 30 women and girls were abducted, raped and killed in this zone.

Many crimes have not been disclosed, including the murder of 16-year-old Laura, whose father has been searching for the guilty for more than 30 years. In parallel, Tim Miller (Tim Miller) became the main assistant of local police in the search for other missing persons. He developed serious tracing skills, and it was with their help that he could finally restore justice to his daughter. Miller’s story was told by The Guardian.

Location by motorway

For many years, Tim Miller has been working with the police to find the missing. He takes on seemingly hopeless cases, organizes volunteers and responds to calls throughout the country. He is approached with various requests: to find elderly people with dementia, missing children, to find out what happened to the plane that disappeared from the radar, or to investigate the murder.

In 2000, Miller founded the search nonprofit organization Texas EquuSearch to search for the missing: during the time the volunteers found more than 400 people and approximately 238 bodies. Rivers, lakes, marshes, wharves, sewage channels – Miller’s team works in any territory. Once, in search of the remains, the head of the organization unearthed the base of the house, but found only a small depression in the form of a body under the ground.

Over the years, the 71-year-old Miller has earned a reputation as a responsible professional who brings things to the end. However, it is this crime, thanks to which he came to volunteer, is not formally disclosed.

Tim Miller looks at the half-ruined vandals cross, which he placed near the place where Laura’s remains were found, 1997. Photos Houston Chronicle

September 10, 1984, 16-year-old Laura went to the nearest parking lot to call: Millers just moved to the town of League City, and they have not yet had a telephone line. The girl was planning to contact her boyfriend, but this never happened. No one else has seen her alive.

Laura suffered from epileptic seizures, so when she did not return home on time, parents first called the nearest hospitals. Then Tim and Janet went to the police, but they suggested that the girl ran away from home or committed suicide. At that time, none of the investigators noticed that 11 months before the disappearance of Laura in the same parking lot, another woman disappeared.

The last time the 23-year-old waitress, Heide Fye, was seen live on October 10, 1983. In April of the following year, the couple from the League City noticed that their dog was playing with something strange in the backyard. It turned out to be a human skull, which the dog brought from a thicket near the I-45 motorway. Soon the police found other remains of Fe in the same place – judging by the injuries, the girl was beaten to death with a blunt object. Detectives had no clues, and soon the case was taken to the distant regiment.

Territory near the oil field, where they found the bodies of Laura and other girls. Photos of The Guardian
When Miller came across the story of Fe and pointed out her similarity to the loss of Laura, the police brushed aside. The father of the disappeared demanded from the investigators to check the field where they found the body of the waitress, but they ignored him. He asked for permission to check the territory on his own, but the investigators refused.

Two years later, several boys cycled on bicycles not far from the motorway. They felt the unpleasant smell that came from the still relatively fresh but already decaying body of the young woman. Her body with bullet wounds (they were the cause of death) lay about 45 meters from the place where the remains of Fe were found. The girl’s identity was never established, but it was then that the police discovered the skeleton of Laura Miller.

New Victims

The reluctance of the police to listen to Miller’s advice and to check the place of death of Fe cost the detective important information – when Laura’s remains were found, it was already impossible to determine the cause of death. As with the two bodies described above, the girl’s skeleton was leaning against a tree, and the head was raised to the sky, as if it were easier to find.

At that time, Miller was already ripe with the idea of ​​who could be responsible for what happened – Clyde Hedrick, who lived next door to the Millers in Dickinson. In the year of Laura’s murder, this friendly and attractive young man went for a short time to prison for a very strange incident. In July 1984, he met at the bar with 29-year-old Ellen Beisson (Ellen Beason) and later left with her.

When the girl did not come to work the next day, the police interrogated Hedrick. He confessed that she and the girl went to the lake and accidentally drowned, after which he panicked and hid her body. The forensic expert could not determine the cause of the death of the girl, so Hedric was given only a year in prison for outraging the body (the survey showed signs of penetration after death).

Miller believed that the killer deliberately left the bodies in an unusual position to “admire” the work done later. At night, the Texan lay for hours in the bushes near the oil field with a gun, drank, smoked and waited for the guilty.

From the friend of Laura Miller learned that Hedrick had communicated with his daughter, several times passed by her house and once sold her and her friends marijuana. When the deceased’s father reported the information to the police, the investigators did not pay much attention to her and did not continue the investigation.

Miller was tired of enduring: he accused the police of League City and the forensic expert of being unprofessional and began his own investigation. The Texan found the owner of the abandoned oil fields and persuaded him to allow the lease of the territory for $ 10 per year. After that, Miller assembled a team of volunteers and completely walked the whole area – soon the whole area was covered with pits, but no new searches were given.

Then the police finally found the first suspect in the case. They were not Clyde Hedrick, but 60-year-old Robert Abel, a former NASA engineer who owns a ranch near oil fields.

“Shy” employee of NASA

Modest and calm Abel was in NASA right after the university – he helped create a series of rockets “Saturn”, which delivered the Apollo team to the moon. In the 1990s, the designer left the department, bought the land and built a ranch. When the police first came to him with questions, he was very keenly interested in the details of the investigation, offered any possible help and lent the search squad horses.

But something confused the detectives in the behavior of the man. The third ex-wife of the engineer contacted the lead investigator Gary Bittner (Gary Bittner) and told that sometimes the spouse sharply fell into fits of anger and cruelty. He never beat the girl, but she saw him beat the horses. With another wife, Abel parted after 41 days after marriage: according to the girl, because of the refusal to have sex with him, a former NASA specialist was enraged.

Robert Abel. A shot from the reportage of CBS
The FBI urged the judge to issue a search warrant for the house and ranch, but only for 12 hours. During this time, investigators confiscated from the house a gold tooth, a collection of photographs and weapons. All this in one way or another could connect Abel with murders, but the results of the study did not bring anything. The gold tooth belonged to Abel, the bullet from his gun could not be compared to the one from which the unknown woman was killed, and there was nothing remarkable in the photographs.

The police retreated, but Miller did not want to give up. He firmly believed Abel guilty and began to regularly park the car at his house, without hiding the surveillance. “I’ve come to his house so often that it seems crazy. Two or three times a day, “Miller recalls. In addition, he sent letters to Abel with threats.

The engineer made a decision in court, which prohibited Miller from approaching him. This did not stop the Texan – he continued to watch and once sent a man a letter in which he promised to kidnap him and bury him alive in the Nevada desert.

According to Abel’s ex-wife, when their livestock died, the man did not bury him, but left him lying under the sun for eating birds.

The desperate Miller did not fulfill the threat, but instead he came home to Abel and placed a loaded Magnum revolver 357 caliber on his head. The man demanded that he confess to the murder of Laura, but then turned and left. It seemed like this was over.

In April 1997, a new murder occurred – in the pond near the city of Pasadena (Texas) found the body of a 12-year-old girl. Four months later, on the I-45 motorway, an empty car of 17-year-old Jessica Cain was found, but her tracks were nowhere to be found. As soon as Miller found out about what had happened, he assembled a team of volunteers and, together with them without a warrant and permission, Abel dug his ranch in search of bodies. They did not find anything.

Abel committed suicide in 2005. He stopped his ATV on the tracks and waited for the train to arrive. Looking back, Miller does not believe that the engineer is guilty of killing his daughter. Shortly before the suicide, the pursuer accidentally met with Abel. At that time, he already lived alone on a broken and neglected ranch – Laura’s father approached the man and asked him for forgiveness for his misdemeanors. Then the men burst into tears.

The murderer in one case and the suspect in another

In 2010, Miller asked the sheriff of Galveston and the FBI to check Clyde Hedrick’s involvement in Laura’s death. This time, the man who already deserved a good reputation from the police managed to convince the investigators to help. At first they began to study the old case of Ellen Bisson, who allegedly drowned in 1984. The detectives ordered a new examination and found out that the first forensic expert badly cleared the bones of the deceased and did not pay attention to the deep crack in the skull.

Investigation of the remains in 2012 confirmed that such a wound requires a powerful directional strike, after which the case was re-qualified as “murder.” In April 2013, 28 years after the death of Bisson, Hedric was charged with murder. Shortly before the trial, the investigators informed Miller that Hedrick had confessed to his cellmates not only in the attack on Bisson, but also in the murder of Laura and the waitress Fe. He boasted that he raped Laura before killing her.

Additional witnesses against the man were his former wives and partners. As stated in the document of investigators presented in court, from 1991 to 1993, Hedrick, according to his ex-wife, sometimes returned home and said that he “did it again”, and in 1996 came with a bloody knife and asked his wife to get rid of him.

Clyde Hedrick in court. A shot from the ABC television report

Miller was present at every hearing in the Bisson murder case. Sometimes he and Hedrick looked each other in the eye – one from the dock, the other sitting in a chair in the hall. “We often arranged” peepers, “and I, ***** ( hell –  ), won every time,” Miller says. Although the investigation failed to prove Hedrick’s guilt in the deliberate murder of Bisson, in 2014 the court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for manslaughter.

In 2018, Hedrick continues to assert that he never killed anyone, and Miller set him up. He is particularly opposed to the fact that if he really wanted to kill Bisson, he would not do it the day he was walking with her with a dozen witnesses. In addition, the convicted person claims that he hid the body of the deceased not to conceal the crime, but from fear. Hedrick’s wife is on his side: she visits her husband with her daughter in prison and blames Miller for destroying her life. According to the woman, the spouse always cared for her and never raised her hand.

After the verdict, Hedrick Miller continued to work as a volunteer, which he plans to do further. According to the 71-year-old Texan, now he dreams only of a candid recognition of Hedrick. In case he confesses to the rape and murder of Laura, he faces the death penalty.

There is only one even more terrible thing than killing your child, and this is most likely the knowledge that your child died somewhere out there, before he had time to say goodbye.

Tim Miller
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