When Gary Miller was 11 years old he beat his step-father with a brick. He was committed to the California Youth Authority until he was released at the age of 16. He then began a career of burglary and car theft, serving his first prison sentence before the year was over. During the next 18 years, he was convicted of 10 felonies and served all but a few months in prison. While in prison he had become a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a violent prison gang.
On August 3, 2010 Gary Miller, who was now 35 years old, was paroled from the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Instead of being released, however, he was put on a prison transport bus to be extradited to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to serve out the remaining 12 years of a 25-year sentence because he had violated the terms of his parole.
He never made it to Oklahoma. On Monday, August 16, 2010, while en-route to Oklahoma, he was temporarily detained at the minimum-security jail in Ray County, Missouri. Two nights later Gary Miller escaped from the Ray County Jail. Just before midnight on Wednesday, August 18, he removed a loose air vent in the ceiling of his cell tank and climbed into the attic. He then pried off the sheet metal covering of the outside wall and dropped to the ground below.
Miller followed nearby railroad tracks west away from the jail. A thick fog blanketed the area well into the next morning aiding his escape. By 5:00 AM Thursday morning he was 5 miles west of the jail. He didn’t have a weapon so he picked up a railroad spike. He left the tracks and headed north ¼ mile across a field toward a light he saw in the distance. The light was from a house otherwise hidden by the surrounding woods. Miller crept near the house and hid in the woods. He watched the house.
He watched as the husband jogged in the early morning before leaving for work. He watched as he drove away in his car. He crept closer to the house. He got a drink from an outside faucet. He saw a small black car and a pick-up in the driveway. The keys to both were in the ignition, but he didn’t take either vehicle. He watched two women in the kitchen. He watched and he waited. The younger woman got into the black car and left. Now there was only one person left in the house.
It was me.
It was a normal Thursday morning on August 19, 2010. My husband jogged up and down our long gravel driveway. He showered, dressed for work and kissed me goodbye. My 24 year-old daughter, who worked in his office, left at 9:30. I was now alone and figured I had just enough time to call my friend before I showered and left for my hair appointment. I called her on my cell phone. As I was talking to her on my bluetooth headset I heard a “beep beep beep”, the sound my alarm system makes when a door is opened, even if the alarm is not set. I said, “That’s strange. I think I heard a door open, but nobody else is here. I wonder if the security system is just malfunctioning.” My friend said she would stay on the phone until I figured out what it was. I looked around the upstairs, but I didn’t see or hear anything. I told her it must have been a door in the basement and I was going to check it out.
Just as I got within a few feet from the door leading down to the basement, it suddenly swung open. Standing at the top of the stairs was a man I had never seen before. He was big, over six feet tall, wearing orange pants and a white t-shirt. I was startled and my mind tried to make sense of the situation. I asked, “Oh…who are you?” then noticed he had what I thought was a tool in his hand. We had been having our air conditioner repaired so before he could answer, I said, “Oh, you’re here to work on the air conditioner, aren’t you?” thinking he must have come to help Eric, our friend who had been doing the work. He answered, “Yeah.” I asked, “Where’s Eric?” He said, “He’s coming.”
Something didn’t seem right, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I said, “Well, I don’t remember my husband telling me you were coming, so I’m just going to call him and tell him you’re here”. My friend, who was still on the phone, was worried. In my ear she kept asking, “Do you know who he is, Peggy?” Under my breath I told her “No.”
I walked back into the kitchen. I picked up the house phone and began calling my husband’s office. Just as I finished dialing the number, the man rushed toward me. His arm was raised in the air with a railroad spike in his fist and he began hitting me on my head. I tried to cover my head with my arms. I was stunned…why was he hitting me? What did I do? Suddenly I realized I needed to scream so that my friend would know I was not OK. I tried to scream, but I was weak and it came out more like a whimper. He hit me again. Everything went black.
I don’t know how much time had passed when I came to. The next thing I remember is that I was laying face down on my daughter’s bed in her bedroom in the basement. He had carried me downstairs. I was so confused, dizzy…everything was white & blurry. My eyes wouldn’t focus. He was tying my hands behind my back with a phone charger cord. I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I asked, “Who are you? Why are you doing this?” He leaned close to me and whispered in my ear, “Your husband hired me to kill you.” I cried, “No, no, that can’t be right, he wouldn’t do that…you have the wrong house!” “He left the door open for me, didn’t he?” he smirked. “He said I could do anything I wanted to you as long as I left you dead.”
I was paralyzed with fear. He was going to kill me? But why? It didn’t make sense.
My heart was pounding…I was so scared, terrified. But I couldn’t move…I had no strength…I was helpless.
Suddenly I heard a loud commotion. Two sheriff’s deputies burst into the room. They had their guns drawn and pointed at Miller’s head. Thank God! I will always remember how relieved I was. They were there to rescue me! How did they know I needed help? How did they know where I was? I had no idea my friend had called 911. I didn’t even remember talking to her.
They shouted “Get down on the ground!” Instead, with his right arm around my neck he pulled me up close to him to use me as a shield. With his left hand pressed against my head he said, “I’ll snap her neck.” The deputy was aiming his pistol directly at Miller’s head. He said, “Then you’re a dead man,” and his finger tightened on the trigger. Miller saw that the deputy was going to shoot him. He dropped me and threw his hands up in the air.
I was life-flighted to a trauma hospital in Kansas City. I was in and out of consciousness. My head was swelling. I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the emergency room. My doctor told me I had a traumatic brain injury. I was dizzy, unable to read, and had episodes of vertigo.
When I got home from the hospital I was so overwhelmed I just started to cry. I knew I would never feel safe in my house again. I was afraid to be alone so my husband stayed at home with me. We got a German Shepherd police dog, added deadbolt locks to the doors, installed additional security devices to our alarm system, and made sure it was always armed. It didn’t help. I was still very anxious and fearful. If my husband even sneezed, I would scream.
Nothing gave me peace of mind until I learned how to use a gun for self-defense. The deputy who rescued me told me no woman should ever have to be in a situation as helpless as mine and I needed to learn how to use a gun. He offered to teach me. At first I was hesitant. I thought guns were dangerous and I was afraid of them. He taught me about gun safety, how to hold and shoot a gun, and he practiced with me. I took a class and I got my concealed carry license.
I used to be afraid of guns, but now I am afraid of NOT having one.
After I was assaulted I realized how vulnerable women are…ALL WOMEN. The statistics are staggering. 8 in 10 Americans will be a victim of a violent crime at some time in their life. I began to investigate and to question some of the self-defense advice women receive and in particular how it related to guns and self-defense. The worst advice we are given about guns is that you don’t need one!
The US Department of Justice, by its own study, ranks using guns for self-defense as the safest and most effective form of self-protection, including no resistance at all! This, of course, is contrary to many false claims being taught to women today, such as they should not resist, that confrontation only makes things worse, that most people are shot with their own guns, etc.
On August 20, 2010 Miller recanted his murder for hire story. He pled guilty to Kidnapping, Resisting Arrest, Escape from Confinement, Assault in the First Degree, and Burglary in the First Degree. He was sentenced to 30 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and is being held at the Crossroads Maximum Security Prison in Cameron, Missouri. Shortly after he began serving his sentence, he strangled his cellmate to death with a towel. He has now been charged with Murder in the 1st Degree.
I am thankful I know how to use a gun. I pray I never need to, but I know I can protect myself if I ever have to.
These are my heroes…I believe the reason I am here to tell my story is because I was fortunate…fortunate I was on the phone with a friend who called 911…and a deputy that arrived at my house within minutes of the 911 call. The police normally respond to crimes AFTER they have occurred and RARELY catch a criminal “in the act”. If a crime happens, it is almost 100% certain no one will be there to protect you but yourself! The question is, if you were home alone, would you be able to protect yourself?