Monday, November 24, 2008


Potential witness, victim's family angry Hayden out on bail Case starting to take its toll on those close to victim, By GREG KATSKI Staff Writer -Washington Daily News 11/19/2008

: two emotionally strained words that sum up the feelings of Marine Corps Sgt. William "Billy" Miller's family, as well as a potential witness in the case, about former Belhaven Police Chief George Hayden posting bail. Hayden, who is charged in the Sept. 16, 1972 shooting death of Miller, was released on a $350,000 bond from Onslow County Jail on Nov. 7. Vickie Babbitt, Miller's wife at the time of his death, is also charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Shortly after Hayden posted bail, Bonnie Sharp, a key witness in the case, contacted the Jacksonville Daily News, according to the paper's crime reporter, Lindell Kay. Sharp used to babysit Miller and Babbitt's infant daughter, Wendy, before Miller's death. Sharp confirmed that she was the previously unidentified witness that provided information to the Onslow County Sheriff's Office to break the case. She came forward after reading an article in the Aug. 10 edition of the Jacksonville Daily News about the unsolved homicide, according to an article in the paper. Sharp said she chose to speak to the Jacksonville Daily News after Hayden was released because the defendants in the case knew who she was. Sharp told the Jacksonville Daily News that she is afraid of Hayden and that keeping her information about the case secret has affected her mentally, emotionally and physically, said an article in the paper. The case has also taken its toll on Sharron Aguilar, Miller's oldest sister. Aguilar has been at the forefront of the 36 year investigation into her younger brother's death. She was deeply disturbed by news that Hayden would be granted release on bond, and even more upset when he made bond one month later. To ease the pain of the news from Hayden's bond hearing on Oct. 2, she started a blog in memory of her beloved brother and to track his case, which has been 36 years in the making. The blog,, features pictures of Miller from childhood to the Marine Corps, news articles about the cold case, and heart wrenching comments from the family. The blog has been dominated lately with commentary on Hayden's release. Aguilar is worried that the Onslow County District Court system might be playing favorites. She said the system seems like a league of "good ol' boys," and Hayden's just part of the gang. "Was he given a little better favor because he was the chief of police?" said Aguilar. Hayden served as Belhaven's police chief for about seven years. Prior to his stint in Belhaven, he was Cape Carteret's chief. "I'm questioning everything," she said. "You know, one of the things the judge took into consideration was that (Hayden) had never been in trouble before. Well shoot, how do we know what he did? Maybe he just didn't get caught. He was the chief of police." Aguilar said that Hayden's bail, set at $350,000, was not enough. Now Miller's sister hopes that Babbit, who is still in pretrial confinement, will turn on Hayden. Even still, Aguilar feels no remorse for her former sister-in-law. "For that case, I have no sensitivity for (Vickie)," she said. "Supposedly, (Hayden) talked her into it. But she stood there while he was murdered." Aguilar said that her family is very upset and vocal about Hayden's release, but "I'm still positive that this is going to have the outcome that we're looking for." Aguilar's daughter, Deanna Shirley, said that the news of Hayden's arrest and subsequent release has worn on her mother. "Emotionally, the last couple of months has kind of taken a toll on her," said Shirley. "Maybe it's a little overwhelming for her right now." Shirley said that her mother has never let up on the case for 36 years. As the oldest of six children, Aguilar took it upon herself to find Miller's killer. "My mom has kind of been the one to take charge," said Shirley. "And I think, for her mother's sake, she wanted to find the killers and finally put an end to it." What Shirley recalls most is the enduring effect Miller's death had on her grandmother, his mother, Emily Miller Captain. After her husband died of a heart attack at 39 years old, Miller Captain was left with four children to take care of. Shortly after his death, her three sons joined the Marines. Then Miller was killed, not at war, but at home in Jacksonville. Determined to not let her mother down, Aguilar began her 36 year quest to find her brother's killer. "She never did let up," Shirley said. "As long as I can remember, she was always pushing to find someone that would listen to her." Aguilar refused to let up even when her own daughter cast doubts. "We came to a point where I told her, 'We don't have a famous name and we don't have a lot of money, and a lot of times it's just not that interesting.'" said Shirley. But the cold case proved interesting, and intriguing, and upsetting the more people found out. " There's so many people involved," said Shirley. "You take two people that did this horrible thing, and look at all the other people that are involved in it."

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