Saturday, May 29, 2010

Family never lost hope in Marine cold case


Family never lost hope in Marine cold case

The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday May 27, 2010 10:15:42 EDT

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The sister of a Camp Lejeune Marine slain 37 years ago said she always believed the justice system would catch up with the man convicted of shooting her brother twice in what prosecutors said was a murder prompted by a love triangle.

"I never lost hope; I always knew we'd get here," Sharron Aguilar, who kept the case of her brother's killing alive for nearly four decades, said Wednesday after George Hayden, 57, was convicted and got a life sentence.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported that Hayden was sentenced in the shooting death of Sgt. William Miller, 27. Hayden, a former Marine and small-town police chief, hugged his wife in the courtroom before bailiffs took him away.

Jurors had convicted Hayden earlier Wednesday of first-degree murder in Miller's death. Onslow County prosecutors said Hayden killed Miller in an ambush triggered by a love triangle involving Vickie Babbitt, who was married to Miller at the time.

Prosecutors said they think Babbitt faked car trouble to lure Miller to a secluded stretch of rural road in Jacksonville. They said Hayden was waiting in a ditch with an M-16 rifle and shot Miller in the temple and back.

Passing motorists found Miller's body Sept. 16, 1972, near Camp Lejeune less than an hour after he left home. When police found the car, its engine was running, the headlights were on and Miller's pistol remained in the front seat, unfired.

"He stole my brother's home, wife and child, and money," said Charlie Miller, the youngest of six in Miller's family. "He tried to steal his identity, and when that didn't work he stole Billy's life."

When Miller returned home from a tour of duty in Okinawa, he found Hayden living with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, The Daily News reported, based on information from the U.S. Navy's Office of the Judge Advocate General. He had the sheriff's department remove Hayden in August 1972.

But then, his wife and daughter moved with Hayden, the information showed.

Babbitt and Hayden married four months after Miller's death, then divorced four years later.

Hayden retired from the Marine Corps in 1989 and worked for the Carteret County Sheriff's Department before becoming chief for the Cape Carteret and Belhaven police departments.

The case remained unsolved until Miller's sister contacted a newspaper reporter looking into cold cases and the resulting investigation elicited new information from a 1970s baby sitter.

Babbitt, 58, and Rodger Gill, 56, an ex-Marine who was friends with the Babbitt and Hayden, have also been charged in the case. They will go on trial later this year.

3 comments:

  1. Hello. I've been reading about this case because I lived on Camp LeJeune when it happened because my father was stationed there. This might sound flaky, but I have to tell you that if you enlarge the group photo you can see that the orb on the right hand side has a smiling face inside it. Normally, I dismiss orbs as dust or water droplets, but this one is too detailed for that. Maybe it's Sgt. Miller or an angel.

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  2. Did anyone see this? It's very important to me because if you click on the picture, then enlarge it again you can definitely a smiling face in the orb and that might give a bit of comfort to this family.

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