Webster deaths ruled double homicide

Family members come and go Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 at the Tucker Ridge Road residence of Michael Miller Sr., 47, and Valerie Miller, 47, who were both found dead in their Webster Plantation home on Saturday. The deaths have been ruled suspicious and are being investigated. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY BRIDG
Family members come and go Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 at the Tucker Ridge Road residence of Michael Miller Sr., 47, and Valerie Miller, 47, who were both found dead in their Webster Plantation home on Saturday. The deaths have been ruled suspicious and are being investigated. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
Posted Nov. 30, 2009, at 5:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

WEBSTER PLANTATION, Maine — A Tucker Ridge Road couple whose bodies were found one slumped over the other in their mobile home on Saturday are homicide victims, state police said Monday as they searched for a woman who might have been the last to see the couple alive.

Investigators released a composite sketch of a woman who visited Michael and Valerie Miller, both 47, on Saturday morning. Police describe her as about 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 130 pounds, mid-50-ish, with bifocal glasses and graying dark hair tied in a ponytail.

“We need to identify her and see if she has information that might be helpful,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

McCausland declined to describe the woman as a suspect or person of interest. Detectives would like anyone who traveled on Tucker Ridge Road in town from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to call them at 1-800-432-7381, or 911 on a cell phone, he said.

Autopsies were performed Sunday at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta, but the cause of the deaths has not been released. Monday’s double homicide ruling came after investigators consulted with the medical examiner’s office and the Maine Attorney General’s Office, McCausland said.

Valerie Miller’s brother, 44-year-old Kevin White of Waldoboro, said family members were taking the news about as well as can be expected.

“They still ain’t told us how they died. That’s what I want to find out,” White said Monday. “How? And then, why? They were the nicest people you could ask about. How could somebody kill them? I can’t figure that out.”

The bodies were found just before 1 p.m. Saturday when a visiting friend called 911 because no one answered the door, McCausland has said.

Teams of state police detectives have used a Maine Department of Transportation garage in Springfield as a gathering point for their efforts. Webster Plantation is a tiny rural community between Springfield and Kingman in northern Penobscot County.

Family members told White that Michael Miller was found lying faceup in his kitchen, with his legs folded behind him. Valerie was next to him with her head on his chest, White has said.

Before Monday’s double homicide ruling, investigators told White that they suspected the two died of carbon monoxide poisoning, heart attacks or some other form of illness or sudden-onset affliction, White has said.

Later, White learned that Michael Miller might recently have had a dispute with two younger men, including one who is listed as a convicted sex offender. The Millers met the two men through White’s nephew, White said.

“We are holding it together until we get answers as to how they was killed. We still don’t know if it was robbery,” White said Monday.

“There’s just a lot of questions, but not enough answers,” White said.

Among the things state police seek to determine, McCausland said in a telephone interview, is how Miller made money. A very large man, Miller was laid off from a fence-making company in Chester, and White said Saturday that Miller was well-known for lending people money.

On Monday, White said that besides lending money — he didn’t know whether his brother-in-law charged interest on the loans — Miller sold cigarettes that he bought via the Internet. White said he believed the sales were legal.

“He never believed in putting money in the bank,” White said. Miller also owned or paid for at least one place in Lincoln where his son or sons lived, White said.

He said he talked to his sister every day and was unaware of any problems.

The couple lived in a mobile home with an addition on a sparsely populated road about 25 miles east of Lincoln. Their closest neighbor was a Pennsylvania man who came to Maine to hunt each fall; the next-closest neighbor beyond him was a quarter-mile away, said Hazen Jipson, the town’s road commissioner, who lived down the road.

There are only about 70 residents in Webster Plantation. “It’s a quiet little country town,” Jipson said.

Michael Miller had worked for 29 years for Walpole Woodworkers, which harvests lumber in Maine for fences that are installed from Maine to Virginia. He was a seasonal worker who had been laid off on Nov. 20 with several others, said Chris Bridges, the company’s payroll and benefits administrator in Walpole, Mass.

Though their health was spotty, the Millers also seemed to have a very good relationship, White has said. A housewife, Valerie Miller married her husband when she was 17 and had two sons, Matthew and Michael J. Miller Jr.

Miller had finished an addition to his home a month ago and was getting ready to build another, White said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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