Sunday, May 9, 2010
Woman's feelings mixed over latest events in dad's murder
BY LISA MEHRING • For the Beacon • May 8, 2010
Closure, and a little justice, is all one Windsor woman is seeking.
Wendy (Miller) McGee, 40, was almost 2 years old when her father, Sgt. William Donald Miller, was found shot to death in Jacksonville, N.C., on Sept. 16, 1972.
Authorities found Miller's car on the shoulder of a road in Jacksonville, N.C., with the engine running, the lights on, a blinker clicking and a cocked pistol on the seat. Miller was found lying in the middle of a rural road. He had been shot in the right temple and the back.
No arrests were made. For 36 years, the death of her father had been an unsolved, cold case.
"It's stressful," McGee said Tuesday. "I try to take it day by day, but it's always there in the back of my mind. I hope to get closure. I just want to know the truth of why he had to be killed. The not knowing is the hardest part."
Closure may finally be near.
A witness came forward with new information in August 2008.
"By some miracle, in 2008, someone came forward," said Sharron Aguilar, Miller's sister who lives in Houston, Texas. "I don't think the Lord opened all these doors to drop us. We'll keep strong."
The discovery of the suspects, however, has opened a door of pain for McGee.
McGee's mother, Vickie Miller Hayden Cooper Babbitt, 60, and former stepfather George Hayden, 59, a former police chief, are now being charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
"I'm very anxious for it (the trial) to get going and to get it done with," McGee said. "It's also my mother who is basically being tried. I feel torn."
The trial is scheduled for May 17 in Jacksonville, N.C.
Miller and Hayden were friends in the Marine Corps. But once Miller returned from a tour in Vietnam, he found Hayden had moved into his mobile home. After kicking Hayden out, Babbitt left with him and their 1-year-old daughter.
One month later, Babbitt called Miller asking to meet her in a parking lot because of car troubles. Shortly after, motorists found Miller's body.
Four months after Miller's death, Hayden and Babbitt married. They later divorced.
Aguilar explains how the case looks today.
"Right now, they're trying George Hayden of being the accused shooter in the case," Aguilar said Tuesday. "Vickie is also accused of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. For some reason, her trial was scheduled first. But all of a sudden, he's the first trial. We're not sure if Vickie is turning on him, we just don't know."
Roger Gill, an ex-Marine and a friend of Babbitt's and Hayden's, might also be linked to the case.
The witness who came forward in 2008 had mentioned she had once been engaged to Gill. Reports indicate Gill had witnessed the murder, which led to the arrests of Hayden and Babbitt. Gill was later arrested in January 2009 with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
"We knew all along who did it," Aguilar said. "The evidence pointed to the two of them."