tv The Hunt With John Walsh CNN May 30, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
never, ever let anything like that ever happen to her. i already know how much i love her and will protect her with everything that i have. back in 1981, i had the american dream. the beautiful wife, the house in the suburbs and a beautiful 6-year-old son. and one day i went to work, kissed my son good-bye, never saw him again. in two weeks i became the parent of a murdered child, and i'll always be the parent of a murdered child. i still have the heartache. i still have the rage. i waited years for justice. i know what it's like to be there waiting for some answers. and over those years, i learned how to do one thing really well. and that's how to catch these bastards and bring them to justice. i've become a man hunter.
i'm out there looking for bad guys. >> domestic violence is serious. and it's deadly. when i think about sandy, something happens inside me. it's just like this huge weight. i'm not sure if it's the sense of failure. it just seemed so inexplicable because i thought, she's safe. >> shane miller became our main suspect almost immediately. ♪ ♪
>> such a pretty place for such an ugly thing to happen. >> shasta county is located in rural northern california. we have about 3,800 square miles of county. much of it is rural. some people move here to enjoy the mountains, the snow in the wintertime, the isolation. shingletown is a great town to live in. the people are great. they support each other.
everyone, you know, it's a small town, so everyone pretty well knows each other, and because it is small, there's a lot of talk. ♪ ♪ >> this is probably one of the prettiest places. when you think of california, you don't think of this too much. it's more like some place like virginia or something, it's so pretty. and this is the biggest market that we have. breeze market. then we have the pizza parlor over here. this is our big hangout now. it's where everybody comes. it's where when people have funerals, we all meet for potlucks and stuff right there at the pizza parlor.
it is pretty much like the wild west, so that kind of creates good things and bad things. you have people that now take law into their own hands. i've heard people talk about, well, this person doesn't straighten up, we'll just have to take them out into the woods, and you won't be able to see them anymore. >> most the people living in these rural areas are very independent and they are used to not seeing a whole lot of law enforcement there. especially the ones that want to do covert operations such as clandestine marijuana growing. we're one of the prime growing areas in california. california does have a compassionate use act for allowing medical marijuana, but a lot of people have been involved in illegal marijuana
growing for many, many years. >> i don't think americans really have a grasp on what life is like in this area of california. where the main business, the main income, is growing marijuana, and it is an industry that employs lots of people, but it's still illegal. it's still a dangerous business. it's still a lot of people that are on the margins of it. there's a lot of bad people in that business. >> i believe that he had a background in marijuana, and that's what brought shane miller and his family to our community. ♪ ♪
>> really didn't know anything about them other than that they lived on our street. yeah. we never really saw them out in front of the house or anything. it is crazy to think that someone with a potential to do something so horrific lived just a quarter mile away from you. >> it was september 2011 when i first met sandy, and i was a hairdresser. sandy miller was my client. i'll never forget when i first met her and she first came to the shop with her beautiful red hair. and it's curly and gorgeous and she wanted to straighten her hair. first thing i think, oh my god, your hair's beautiful. why would you want to change it? you know, but everybody wants to be something other than what they are sometimes.
>> sandy was a stay-at-home mom. she was very much into the environment. planting trees and flowers at her home. she had two daughters. one, shelby. she was 8 years old. and shasta was 4. >> where? it's a rock. >> i was so struck by how she was with her little girls. how she was with the kids. she was just very earthy and very real and easy to talk to. she was really a nice person. >> when she would be taking the kids to the school bus stop, it would be a wave, you know, through the car windows.
if shane was with her, there was no eye contact, no waving. so it makes me wonder if there was something going on. ♪ ♪ >> if i had known anything about the domestic violence, you know, i definitely would have tried to help her, and i know the community would have rallied around her to help, too. i would have done anything to save her. [ gunshot ] >> you never know when a person can snap. >> sandy was scared. she said, i'm really afraid that
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♪ america has a couple really ugly secrets that nobody wants to talk about. we have a huge amount of domestic abuse. my god, this is america, this is the land of the free and the brave, and this is a land where women should be respected, and if you hit or abuse women, you're not brave, you're a coward. >> domestic violence is a major crime in shasta county. it's an epidemic here.
i know it sounds ideal, let's go live in the mountains, commune with nature, but that's the perfect setup for an abuser. >> shane miller had no involvement with law enforcement in shasta county up until there was the domestic violence that started occurring between him and his wife. >> sandy miller ended up going to a local women's refuge to seek safe harbor, and she took her children with her. we took a domestic violence report. our detectives learned mr. miller did have an extensive arrest record and had also had a
federal arrest record in which he was sentenced to federal prison. >> when sandy came into our office, she appeared very tired. the girls were very tearful. red eyed. exhausted. they'd had a long morning trying to get down the mountain to come here. she said shane had been very agitated for about three days. she had had hardly any sleep. she said shane had assaulted her, tortured her, choked her, threatened her with guns. you know, he was threatening to kill her whole family. so she needed to get away. sandy was scared. she said, i'm really afraid that he is going to kill us.
i know when i was going through it, i didn't feel like there was anybody i could turn to. i tried to arrange a shelter stay for her, but we weren't able to. she just wasn't able to convince herself to stay with us. so she chose to go to a motel. and somehow or another, he got connected with her again. >> it's a tough, tough subject, and there are so many women that want to forgive, that want to give the goi a secouy a second . i want this guy to come back and be as charming as he was. i want him to take care of me. i want him to take care of our children. i want him to love our children. ♪ ♪
>> with domestic violence, there's a pretty distinct cycle, and it's called a honeymoon because that's when the abuser is on their very best behavior and trying to smooth over a situation. and in the beginning of an abusive relationship, you can think you met the man of your dreams. i mean, he is mr. wonderful. but then through time, something changes in the relationship. something happens. there's some kind of explosion. it seems so out of character for this wonderful guy to do that. so then the victim tends to hold on to that. you know, the potential. the honeymoon can be pretty
powerful. he's seen the light. he's changed. maybe this time it will work. >> you just don't know, maybe he was charismatic at one time, maybe he was different. and you never know when a person can snap or anything, and i, myself, had been in a shelter at one time. i have experienced that. when you have somebody like sandy who's soft and quiet and nice, there's people who prey on that. and then after they get them, the control starts. and then they feel stuck or they've got two children, what are they going to do, where are they going to go?
>> it was about 7:30, 7:45, and i heard some gunshots, but that's not really unusual in this area. >> 911. your emergency? hello? [ gunshot ] >> things didn't happen in our community on that level. how on earth could somebody be that evil? no one was safe. put your hand over your heart. is it beating? good! then my nutrition heart health mix is for you. it's a wholesome blend of peanuts, pecans and other delicious nuts specially mixed for people with hearts.
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there's no going back. the last place you're going to is the morgue. >> 911. your emergency? hello? >> on the evening of may 7th, 2013, our dispatchers received a 911 call from the miller residence, and the phone, there was no conversation, but they could hear what sounded like a person crying on the phone and then the dispatcher referred to hearing some loud bangs. our dispatchers knew there was something very wrong at the scene. [ gunshots ]
[ sirens ] >> upon arrival, the officers found mrs. sandy miller murdered by gunshots, but what made it even more tragic, we're seeing two young children dead. >> the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to all victims. >> it was very difficult, even for the officers to handle. >> the ammunition that was used was specifically a ballistic-style bullet that was designed to do great harm and
induce a lot of trauma. >> as you can imagine, it would be a very, very bloody scene. one of the young children was nearest to a phone. we surmised it was a young child that had been on 911 crying on the phone, and the loud bangs later turned out to be gunshots killing the children. [ e. [ dial tone ] e. [ dial tone ]e. [ dial tone ]. [ dial tone ] [ dial tone[ dial tone ]
>> shane miller became our main suspect almost immediately. we do know mr. miller was not at the scene. when we arrived, one of his vehicles was missing. this would turn into a very extensive manhunt for mr. miller. >> who would have the insane, sociopathic ability to murder a woman who loved you and to then turn the gun on two small beautiful little girls? it's -- it's unacceptable. shane miller isn't a man. he is a narcissistic, sociopathic coward. what kind of a father -- what the hell kind of a man is that that shoots his own little girls? >> good wednesday morning. i'm kelli saam with your local news at 7:26. deputies looking for an armed and dangerous suspect in a triple homicide. if you know where shane miller is, call 911. >> first i heard what had happened but i didn't think i knew the person until the next day when they released her name and i thought, please don't be my sandy.
>> things didn't happen in our community on that level. there was crime like any place else, but this was not a, you know -- this was not a crime-laden community. it was hometown. it was beautiful. it was tall trees. it was flowers in the spring. it was fishing. it was camping. it was tourists. how on earth could somebody be that evil? and to take and think about your own children, what it would take potentially to have that kind of rage in order to look your own child in the eye and shoot them multiple times? it was a very, very dark day for us here. >> i was told by a co-worker what had happened and i was just
stunned. i probably shouldn't have been, but i was. >> mike, i got my hands on this summary drafted by the shasta county sheriff's office. it says deputies interviewed a handful of shane and sandy miller's family members. sandy had apparently told them that on the day of the homicide, sandy was going to tell shane that she wanted to get a place of her own for her and the kids. >> miller has an extensive criminal history. he's a felon. >> he served four years in a california prison and was released in 2007. >> convicted of growing marijuana in 1996. >> felony hit-and-run charge. >> dui and a drunk in public. >> mendocino county. miller was charged with child neglect in 1994. >> they believe he is armed and extremely dangerous. >> this town is, we're afraid. who is he not willing to kill? if he can kill his own family, he can kill anybody.
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the people that live in shingletown, we were pretty afraid. who would have ever thought that a father would kill his own flesh and blood? that just doesn't happen. you know, in any town. [ gunshots ] >> some new developments in manhunt for shane miller, he's the man accused of killing his wife, sandy, and two daughters. >> 45-year-old shane miller is believed to be driving a gold 2010 pickup. >> sheriff's office is asking for your help in tracking shane down. they tell us they have some information about where he might be headed. they're not releasing that to the public yet. if you see him or think you know where he is, you're asked to contact authorities immediately.
>> we did have information that mr. miller may be going to the humboldt county area, specifically the petrolia area, because that's where he was born and raised and was very familiar with that area of humboldt county. >> petrolia is a small town. population around 600, but those people are spread out over 30 or 40 miles. so nobody really has neighbors, but everyone knows everybody because it's a small town. ♪ ♪ >> he was from here. he went to school here, grammar school, everything. so most of the older people in town remember him and know him and know what kind of a person that he has been. >> shane miller did quite well for himself in the marijuana world. has numerous properties. money wasn't a problem for him.
>> allegedly, you know, he'd played in the methamphetamine world, possibly he was a user of meth, probably mushrooms. he was a gun fanatic. >> all the towns around here, people know of him or they've known him since he was little. most people we talked to about him said he's a scary guy and he's definitely very violent. >> about 16 hours after the homicides were discovered, around noon, there was a sighting of mr. miller and his vehicle in the petrolia area. >> somebody that knew shane intimately saw his truck and makes a 911 call that ends up coming to us and then that's when the calvary starts assembling and heading this way. >> his ex-girlfriend spotted his
pickup down at the beach. so she had come back to the store where the pay phone is and called 911. the dispatcher told her to wait here by the fire hall, and she was getting ready to leave and that's when he came down the road. and they stopped right, like, catty-corner from the fire department. they exchanged a couple of words. it probably only lasted, i would say, maybe a minute. >> you know, the conversation was basically, i believe she asked him what are you doing? he basically told her, you know, it's all right, don't worry about it. and then he drove off. >> we saw him drive through petrolia. i immediately came in here and called the 911 dispatcher. and the dispatcher told us that the officers were on their way en route already.
and maybe two minutes behind him was the whole entire police department, sheriff's department's vehicles coming through here. >> it was a definite urgency and frustration knowing that you've missed this guy that likely has slaughtered his family by ten minutes. ♪ ♪ probably one of the last roads we found just outside of the town of petrolia is where we found there had been a gate that was dummy locked, opened it up, the guy drove through it and we located his pickup maybe a mile up the road.
>> they found this truck late in the evening. it's dark. they don't know if he's armed, if he's sitting there waiting to ambush them out in the woods, so they called back the search and decided to do a full-on search the next morning. >> this is a rural community. everyone's concerned. i mean, i'm sleeping by my bed with a loaded gun just in case. the doors are locked. when your doors are not normally locked. everyone's kind of keeping in contact with each other. >> the problem with an alleged murderer like shane miller in a small community is people are afraid. they're afraid if a guy has the ability to cross the uncrossable line, once you cross that line and you go into that darkness, there's no going back. now you're capable of anything. people have a right to be afraid.
>> all of us wanted the same thing. we all wanted him out of our town. >> i don't want him to see us before we see him. caring for someone with alzheimer's means i am a lot of things. i am his guardian. i am his voice. so i asked about adding once-daily namenda xr to his current treatment for moderate to severe alzheimer's. it works differently. when added to another alzheimer's treatment, it may improve overall function and cognition. and may slow the worsening of symptoms for a while. vo: namenda xr doesn't change how the disease progresses. it shouldn't be taken by anyone allergic to memantine, or who's had a bad reaction to namenda xr or its ingredients. before starting treatment, tell their doctor if they have, or ever had, a seizure disorder, difficulty passing urine,
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>> these are the streets of petrolia. law enforcement has taken over the small town of roughly 500 to expand the search for shane franklin miller. he's suspected of fatally shooting his wife and two daughters on tuesday. crews are now looking in the remote area where the vehicle was found. >> you can still see some of the sheriffs tape on the trees. this has been the center point in the search to find him. >> multiple s.w.a.t. teams out here. we have a ton of people out. a lot of armored vehicles, obviously, because we're concerned about him and what he might have. they brought out dogs. we have the national guard sent a helicopter out here. we're definitely employing everything that we possibly could. >> i think we counted, like, almost 20 different agencies that they were here from. >> you know, people see blackhawks landing in their backyard and wonder, like, what's happening. you know, there's just -- everybody's -- everybody's on
edge. that's just how it goes in a small community. >> we, all of us wanted the same thing. we all wanted him out of our town. how can you kill your own children, let alone small children, very innocent children? [ gunshots ] ♪ ♪ >> this is more of a military-style search now. so we're looking for one person in thousands of acres. i mean, there's a million areas he could hide in this, so we're essentially trying to cover every piece of land that he could walk through, and we're carrying 40 or 50 pounds worth of gear because we have to have vests on and guns and helmets, so you're really heavy and you're trying to look around and stay alert as you're getting
tired as you're hiking through here. so, and you don't know where he is. >> you move slowly. you have your guard up. you're constantly vigilant for that person that's out there because you're looking for somebody that's armed. the way we have to approach it, we're not looking for a body. we're looking for somebody who's looking to kill us. ♪ ♪ >> it's really taxing on you physically walking through here, and mentally because you have to maintain alertness. you know, not just because we're looking for him, but because we don't want him to see us before we see him. >> the search continued on for about two weeks' period of time, but after a while, there was no further investigative leads to pursue that indicated that he was still in the area or could
be found. so at that point, the search was called off. >> the reality of the 2008 recession is that law enforcement all over america lost resources. in rural areas, the ranks got really thin. the thin blue line got really thin. >> we had set up a tip hotline offering a $10,000 reward for information. many tips came in. one of the more significant tips said that there could be an underground hidden bunker on mr. miller's property. >> the miller property was a number of acres in size. our s.w.a.t. team responded there and they found an air vent
that was hidden near a log that tipped them off on the bunker's location. and, of course, it was very much a concern that miller could be hiding in this bunker or could he be at an observation point that as our officers were moving in, they could get ambushed and killed? >> i'll tell you, it wasn't really a survivalist bunker. that's a psychopath bunker. caring for someone with alzheimer's means i am a lot of things. i am his sunshine. i am his advocate. so i asked about adding once-daily namenda xr to his current treatment for moderate to severe alzheimer's. it works differently. when added to another alzheimer's treatment, it may improve overall function and cognition. and may slow the worsening of symptoms for a while. vo: namenda xr doesn't change how the disease progresses.
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we knew that shane miller was sort of a survivalist and we knew there was a possibility that he had bunkers hiding out in the woods. >> the investigation suddenly came back to shasta county where he had another piece of property potentially that thought he might have been staying there in the area, so everybody kind of went back on alert.
>> they didn't find him. they didn't find any evidence that he'd -- that they could conclusively say that he'd been there. but he definitely had made some preparation for an underground hideaway there. >> i'll tell you, it wasn't really a survivalist bunker. that's a psychopath bunker. >> the bunker had been filled with food, ammunition, and guns where a person could survive for quite a period of time. >> this was an extensive arsenal of firearms, a very extensive amount of ammunition, 100,000 rounds. sometimes it's more ammunition than we have on hand at our department for an entire year. and recall that mr. miller was a convicted felon. it was illegal for him to have even one round of ammunition.
it was illegal for him to have, be in possession of a firearm and let alone having 166 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition in a bunker that was secluded underground and very difficult to locate. >> i don't think he was necessarily planning to kill his wife and two daughters, but he was involved in criminal activity and he knew there was a chance at some point he could get caught, so i think that he was preparing for that. >> it was good that we found the bunker and at least recovered those weapons and ammunition, but who's to say that there aren't other bunkers out there? >> you know, there's a distant possibility that he's still out here somewhere, but it's very distant. i personally think that he has vacated this area and is now somewhere where there's a little more amenities, to say. as far as living out in the
brush under a tent, i don't think that's what he's doing. >> it was, and it still is, a daunting task. i mean, so we've gone from 60,000 acres to the rest of the world. i mean, so, you know, we're not only looking for the needle in the haystack, now we're looking for the haystack among the haystacks out in the rest of the world to try to find the needle that's in one of them. >> there is no punishment that will fit this crime. from my personal side of this, the only right thing that shane miller should do is take that gun and turn it on himself. that's what he deserves. if he doesn't have the balls to do that, then turn yourself in. >> the town is very afraid. afraid he's going to show up at any time.
it's just -- it's horrible. it's horrible for us living here and not knowing where he is. >> i think our community came to the point where they started really looking at the emotional side of the murders, and they started talking about how can we help the community heal? >> in june of 2013, the shingletown community center activities council put together a memorial for the girls. >> all right. i'm going to turn over here to show you the library. this is the shingletown library in here, and over here where we have all the picnic tables and the nice little stream is where everybody gathered in here for the memorial for sandy, shelby, and little shasta.
sorry. >> you know, when i think about sandy, something happens inside me. it's just like this huge weight. i'm not sure if it's a sense of failure. it's such a tragedy, because he's still out there. anybody that gets in his way is not safe. on august 1st, 2014, the dead body of an adult male was found in a riverbed in petrolia, california. an autopsy revealed that the dead man was shane franklin miller. he had died of a single gunshot wound to the head. medical examiner's office ruled that his wound was consistent
with suicide. but exactly how and when shane miller died has not yet been explained. up next, a young man falls ill and no one knows why. >> maybe he had been exposed to something through his work. >> despite the best of medical intensive care, he dies. >> is it accidental? is it suicide? is it homicide? >> but investigators know there must be a clue somewhere. >> the more we looked into it, the more bizarre it got. the research triangle in raleigh-durham, north carolina, home to many hi-tech research and development companies. 30-year-old eric miller worked there looking for a cure for pediatric aids. his wife, ann, was also a