Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Two indicted in 1972 slaying
April 7, 2009 - 3:01 PM
An Onslow County Grand Jury indicted a former police chief and his ex-wife Tuesday on a charge of murder in the 1972 shooting death of a Camp Lejeune Marine.

George Hayden, 57, of Belhaven, and Vickie Babbitt, 58, of Bend, Ore., were indicted on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Sgt. William Miller.

Another suspect, Rodger Gill, 56, of Athens, Ill., was indicted on murder charges in Miller's death in January and extradited to North Carolina last month.

"The next step is an admin session of Onslow County Superior Court scheduled for April 20," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee.

During that hearing, attorneys will address discovery - the process in which the prosecution turns over copies of all its evidence in a case to the defense - and set a date for an arraignment where the defendants will enter their pleas to the court.

Babbitt's attorney, Jacksonville lawyer Scott Jack said now that his client had been indicted, he was anticipating the discovery phase.

"I look forward to seeing some evidence," he said. Jack had previously voiced his concerns in open court that the prosecution's only evidence against Babbitt was a statement made by Gill 36 years after Miller's death.

Jack told The Daily News on Tuesday that his client had no involvement in Miller's death.

"Vickie Babbitt is innocent of the charges against her," Jack said. "She was interviewed extensively by agents from the Naval (Criminal) Investigative Service in 1972 and willingly took and passed a polygraph administered by NCIS agents."

Babbitt still mourns Miller's passing, Jack said.

Miller and Babbitt were married at the time of Miller's death. She later married and divorced Hayden.

Hayden and Babbitt have been released on bail. Gill remains in the Onslow County Jail without bond. All three suspects are former Marines.

Hayden and Babbitt allegedly began a relationship while Miller was on assignment overseas and the three had a falling out when Miller returned in September 1972. Miller kicked Hayden out of his home and Babbitt went with him, according to court records.

Witnesses gave statements at the time that Hayden said he would get revenge on Miller, according to information from the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Office.

Prosecutors said Miller contacted a lawyer and began building a case against Hayden and Babbitt for running up his credit while he was deployed.

Authorities say Babbitt lured Miller into an ambush on what was then a secluded area of Western Boulevard and Hayden shot him in the head and the back with an M-16.

Authorities found Miller's car on the shoulder of the road with the engine running, the lights on, a blinker clicking, and a half-cocked pistol on the seat, according to a Daily News archived report.

Gill, a Marine at the time, was allegedly at the scene. Authorities first considered him a witness when they learned last year of his supposed involvement.

"After examining all the evidence and reviewing the applicable laws, I decided he should be charged also," said Dewey Hudson, the district attorney for the 4th Prosecutorial District, which includes Onslow County.

Gill was engaged to the babysitter of Millers' infant daughter in 1972. The babysitter, Bonnie Sharpe, told detectives Gill had witnessed the shooting. She said she came forward after 36 years of silence when she read an article in the Aug. 10, 2008, edition of The Daily News about the unsolved homicide.

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