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Video: Mystery on a moonlit road

NBC Universal Anchors and Correspondents
By Keith Morrison Correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/28/2009 8:48:21 AM ET 2009-02-28T13:48:21

She was crying when it happened. Must have been. And hungry. That's why the father told the mother he'd run out to the store. Get some milk. It was night. September. Still warm. The moon was out in the neighborhood that hugged the big Marine base at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Sgt. Bill Miller - just back from the war - drove past a series of pawn shops, tattoo parlors, honkytonks. The last things he'd ever see. They found his body alongside the road. Two bullet holes. Who did it, or why, no one knew.

Or so the story went.

Wendy is the youngest one in the middle.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I don't have any memories. None.

And here is Wendy now. A grown woman, married, with 2 children of her own. Her father's murder was 36 years ago. But it might just as well have been last week.

Wendy Miller-McGee: Because that's part of-- that's part of me. That's part of my history. That's part of my kids' history. And we were all robbed of it. And for what? I don't know.

Doesn't know because her father's killer - or killers - were never found.

Her mother remarried, twice. The stepfather who raised her was kind. Life continued. The truly shocking truth, like her father, buried. Almost.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I often wondered what happened to my real father. Why he was killed.

Keith Morrison: Were you ever able to find out much about him?

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Wendy Miller-McGee: No. Being a little kid and you're asking something like that, it's, kind of, it's almost uncomfortable. 'Cause I want to know these things. But I can, kind of, get the sense that it just really wasn't a subject that you talk about for some reason.

Time, of course, becomes an accessory in any murder case. Evidence is lost, memories fade, witnesses die. And it was even more difficult in a place like Jacksonville, home to Camp Lejeune. Marines, by the very nature of the service they perform, are often rootless. Anyone connected with her father's murder would surely be long gone by now. So many years ago.

The house Wendy lived in as an infant, just beyond the gates of camp Lejeune, now an abandoned wreck. The deserted road where her father was murdered is a four-lane expressway now, peppered with a string of chain restaurants. Anyroad, U.S.A. Just another unsolved murder, abandoned by time.

And then one day in 2007, Wendy took a trip with her family.  And they stopped here at Arlington National Cemetery. Wendy looked up her dad's name on the register, and found the spot where his body lies.

Wendy Miller-McGee: It's really funny. We hit the gates and I started crying. I mean, it was just very-- it was hard. I-- I cried a lot-- a-- a lot.

That's Wendy to the right with her husband Dave and daughter, Ashley. A simple, sad, family portrait. But it’s not just that. Right here in this moment, a woman grieving for a man she never knew has launched the final act in the mystery, even though she herself is unconscious of it, as if the answer to the buried secret is rising from the tomb. There are people - still alive - who remember, who still have information to share.

Sergeant Bill Miller was all Marine: One tour of duty in Vietnam wasn't enough for him. Miller went twice. Came home - both times -without a scratch. And then, just days after his return, he was gunned down on a country road in North Carolina.

Investigators did what they could. They tried to track down anyone who had a beef with Miller. They interviewed his wife, his neighbor, his friends. But the case just didn't quite come together. And, as these things sometimes do, the file on Sgt. Bill Miller, USMC, slowly migrated out of the attention of the busy sheriff's department.

Murders have a shattering impact on a family. But Wendy's mother, Vickie, just 21 at the time and with a toddler to raise, proved resilient. She married another Marine, a man named George Hayden, who later became a small town police chief. They had a son together but after a few years, the relationship went south and Wendy, her mom and new baby brother moved on.

To, in Vickie’s case - a third marriage, another Marine. A chaotic life for a kid. But mostly happy. Mother and daughter -- close.

Wendy Miller-McGee: You know, even though we moved around a lot. We had a lot of fun and I was loved. We lived in South Carolina. Then Hawaii. From Hawaii. we moved to California. And that's pretty much where I finished high school.

And where she met her future husband, Dave McGee.

Dave McGee: Their family seemed very close. That's what was a part of the attraction for me was is because my family was kinda fallin' apart.

Still, there were those questions Wendy had about her father. That only became more persistent as she went through her teen years.

Wendy Miller-McGee: When I was about 16, I wanted to know about my dad and my dad's side of the family. And-- I started askin' my mother questions. And-- one day she had pulled out this address book and said, "Well this is the last known phone number that I had for your grandmother."

Did she know what she was doing? Did she understand where this might go?

Wendy Miller-McGee: I didn't know anything about my dad's side of the family. So, you know, I-- ended up calling up my grandmother and I kept tellin' her, "This is Wendy Jo."  And-- then all of a sudden she just started just bawlin'. And I was like, "Okay, what did I-- what did I do?" You know, "Why are you cryin?" Not knowing that they knew about me, but didn't know where I was.

All families have secrets. And for Wendy they've been unfolding like a Spanish fan, since the day she made that phone call. To start with, she discovered her father had two daughters from a previous marriage -- meaning Wendy had sisters.

Wendy Miller-McGee: That's basically how I found out about Kimberly and Tamara. Was through the family that I had sisters.

Keith Morrison: Didn't even know you had sisters.

Wendy Miller-McGee: Didn't-- didn't have a clue.

And here they are. This is Kimberly and Tamara now, of course, all grown up. But even when they were kids they said, they knew they had a sister, they just had no way to find her.

Tamara: We didn't know where she was. We knew nothing.

Kimberly: All we knew was her name. We knew we had a sister, Wendy Jo, somewhere.

And here was the proof they'd kept all their lives, like a talisman. The man in the photo is Bill Miller. The three girls, his daughters - Kimberly, Tamara, Wendy. Only Kimberly was old enough to remember one visit, one day, just an hour.

Kimberly Henige: And I remember being outside. It was warm. And we were in the-- the front of the yard. And I remember kind of monkey piling him, climbing all over him. Couldn't get enough of him. But that's the only memory I have.

Keith Morrison: One day?

Kimberly Henige: One day.

Keith Morrison: Maybe an hour?

Kimberly Henige: Maybe, yeah.

And then he was gone, the baby with him.

Miller was hardly more than a baby himself. Already divorced once by then, from the older girls' mother. They'd split up during one of Bill Miller's deployments.

Kimberly Henige: And you put it in the context of a 17 year-old girl that dropped outta high school to marry a 19-year-old boy who had just left a boot camp and was gonna be stationed out in Vietnam.

They knew their father remarried . That little girl was his new family.  But that was all they knew. Until Wendy's phone call. Their sister, once long lost, was now found. It was amazing news. Joyous. And there was, predictably, a burst of enthusiasm. A whole new family that wanted to meet her as much as she did them--

Wendy Miller-McGee: It was exciting. It was just, like, "Wow. I have sisters." I was kind of in shock, actually.

And they, excitable teenagers, decided they just had to see each other. Right away.

Tamara: I said I'll pay for half your plane ticket if you come out during spring break. I was just stoked. I wanted to meet her.

Wendy Miller-McGee: And my mom said, "No. Not going."

Was it jealousy? Bad blood from long ago? Vickie did not reveal her reasons. And Wendy, gradually, let it go. The trip never happened. The years slipped by. Wendy was married with two children by the time the sisters found her again, and renewed their invitation. And this time she said yes.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I asked her. I said, "How do I-- how am I gonna know who you are when I get off the plane?" I said, "I don't have any pictures of you. You don't know what I look like." She said, "You'll know."

Kimberly: The second I saw Wendy, that was her sister (looks at Tamara). They looked like twins. It kind of freaked me out, they looked so much alike. You probably could have mistaken one for the other. She sounded like my sister, she looked like my sister. It was pretty wild. How do you take that in?

Tamara: I knew as soon as she got off that plane that was her.

Wendy: And my Aunt Sharon had showed up. And my Uncle Charlie were there.

Uncle Charlie was a former Marine, just like her dad. He also served in Vietnam. And Aunt Sharon was her father's sister. The eldest of the six Miller kids.

Wendy Miller-McGee: And when we went over to my grandmother's house and… (pause)

Tamara: She was dying of MS.

Keith Morrison: What was that like?

Kimberly: I remember, for me, what stood out in my brain was thinking how happy Grandma Emily must be that she finally, finally, finally got to see this last grandbaby.

Tamara: Wendy was the closest thing to her son.

It was idyllic. A whole new life had opened up. Almost. Because even in all that excitement and happiness, Wendy's long lost family understood they were privy to a shocking piece of information about which Wendy was blissfully ignorant.

Wendy's sisters saw that yawning secret gap between them. But could not bring themselves to tell her what they knew.

Tamara: At one point, I did say, "You know, Wendy, do you know what happened to our dad? And I believe her answer was, "I believe he got shot in front of a Pizza Hut or by a drive-by shooting, or you know, something like that and I'm like, that was my confirmation that she did not have a clue.

Keith Morrison: Why didn't you say that that point, "Oh, no Wendy, it's not like that at all?"

Tamara: I did not want to feel responsible for her pain.

As Wendy grew older, the story her mother told about the murder of her father lost the hard edges of fact and faded into a kind of family fable. Never doubted, really, never questioned. Why would a girl do that?

Wendy Miller-McGee: My mom always told me that-- he had went to the store to go get milk or whatever it was. And he was killed in a drive-by-shooting and that was, kind of, the end of it.

Keith Morrison: Went to the store to get milk and was killed in a drive-by-shooting. That was it, that was the story?

Wendy Miller-McGee: That-- yeah.

Or, at least, it was one of the stories. It was an evolving fable. Then Wendy's husband Dave heard an entirely different story from one of her relatives. In that story, Sgt. Bill Miller was on official Marine Corps business when he was gunned down.

Dave McGee: The other story was that Bill would have been on some sort of patrol or something. Looking for AWOL soldiers around the base. And came across some soldiers and drug activity and things went bad. And he ended up being shot and killed.

Well, at least, apparently, it was death in the line of duty. And so that somewhat more honorable tale took its place. For a while. But then one day - it was 1994 - Wendy opened her mailbox and found inside an envelope. Unmarked save for her name and address. Untraceable. Anonymous.

Wendy Miller-McGee: There was no return address on it.

Keith Morrison: No indication of who it was from?

Wendy Miller-McGee: No indication who it was from. I opened it up and I started reading it. It was actually a copy of the letter from the-- oh, what's it called. The-- judge advocates of the navy.

Keith Morrison: Yeah.

Wendy Miller-McGee: Basically stating what had happened to my father.

Keith Morrison: Things you knew?

Wendy Miller-McGee: Things I did not know!

This is a copy of the report. It's from the navy judge advocate's office -- one of the agencies that investigated Sgt. Miller's murder. Dated April 28, 1973.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I wasn't even halfway through-- not even halfway through the first page. And I remember yelling at my husband, David. It wasn't a drive-by-shooting like I was told growing up.

Dave McGee: Here we have in a report that states certain, you know, names of people, places, colors of cars-- people not being home at night, what they were doing, where they were, who they were with, who they weren't with. It was laying out the details of a cold blooded murder.

As Wendy read, she felt her world cave in beneath her. There was nothing honorable in this. It was horrible. And the source was official, far more believable than her mother had been. According to the Navy -- and the witnesses they interviewed -- the real story of Sgt. Bill Miller's death began with a phone call. It was evening. Late. It was a neighbor's phone. Miller didn't own one. The person on the other end said it was urgent.

The neighbor ran next door. Miller came to the phone. Talked for a minute. And then he grabbed a pistol, chambered a round, placed it on the front seat of his car, told the neighbor, "might be an ambush", drove into the night. Minutes later, Miller pulled to a stop at the edge of this remote 2 lane road. He left the engine running. Left his turn signal on. He got out -- unarmed -- walked to the front of his car, unaware of what was in the reeds. It was a passing motorist who found the body. Police determined that Miller had been hit twice by shots from a military weapon, an M-16.

The first would have knocked him down, alive but horribly wounded. The second was clearly a coup de gras. Whoever fired the first shot put the second point blank into Miller's head.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I remember I called my mom. And I had told her I had gotten this letter in the mail. And-- I started asking her questions about it. It was-- it's almost like, how dare you ask me these questions. I'm not gonna talk about this. And-- it's-- just seemed like the more I pushed about it the more defensive she got.

Keith Morrison: And you were pushing.

Wendy Miller-McGee: Right. Yeah, like-- I wasn't allowed to talk about it. I wasn't allowed to ask about-- like, I was actually doing something wrong.

Wendy Miller-McGee: I wanted answers. I wanted to know why this letter was saying this.

And, for that matter, who sent it, and why. Wendy had no idea then that it was her sister, Tamara, who had sent the anonymous letter - the investigative report. Didn't know that it was they who decided the time had come for her to know the truth.

Kimberly: When Tamara would ask Wendy, "What do you know about your dad?" The answers that Wendy was giving were so far from the truth, that I knew that it was really, really hard for her to sit quiet and hear it.

They'd kept that copy of the investigative report for years. And with every year that past - as their sisterhood grew stronger - the secret of what they knew, and Wendy didn't know, gnawed away at Tamara's conscience.

Tamara: I had conversations with Kimberly.

Kimberly: You called me in tears.

Tamara: Like, she's got to know. She's got to know the truth.

Kimberly: She's like, "I don't know what to do. I want to send the report, but I don't want to cause her pain. I don't want to ruin her life.

Keith Morrison: So what triggered it, Tamara?

Tamara: I think it just got to the point that enough was enough. I felt she had the right to know the truth.

But, truth be told, she was afraid of what she was doing, thus the anonymous envelope. And what was it about that report that so worried these sisters? It's in the words of the document, now yellowed with age: "Authorities considered (William Miller's) death "to have been linked with recent marital problems."

And the person who placed the urgent phone call that night? The call that prompted Miller to arm himself and head out into the night? It was the spinner of those family fables about his death. The caller was Vickie, Wendy's own mother.

One anonymous envelope in the mailbox. And it had altered her universe, changed everything.

Was it actually possible that Wendy's own mother knew more about the murder than she admitted? That she may even have played some part in what happened? Couldn't be.

Wendy Miller-McGee: It's right there in black and white and I'm readin' it, but I don't want to believe it.

Again and again she read the report. So short of real answers. So filled with deeply disturbing questions.

Wendy Miller-McGee: And to basically not get answers to your questions is kind of-- it-- it-- it's shocking.

Dave McGee: It blew up into somethin' big. I mean, one of the worst things that I remember her mom ever tellin' her about is that, "Your dad is dead and you should get over it."

Wendy Miller-McGee: It's-- it's almost a hurtful, like-- disbelief, like, "Why wouldn't you answer-- answer this?" You know, "Why wouldn't you explain this to me?"

But by now, remember, there were other family members Wendy could turn to: her father's family.

Tamara: She kept saying, "I want to know more about this. I want to know more."

Kimberly: I think, and you might know better. But I think at that point in time, I think Sharon became a factor.

Tamara: I think Sharon just kind of really filled her in.

That would be their Aunt Sharon. Their father's sister -- and family keeper of all the yellowing reports, articles and letters that are now her brother's aging legacy. And it begins with the age-old curse of the military. Bill Miller came home from the war -- to an unfaithful wife.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): He found his friend living with his wife--

Keith Morrison: As?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): --as husband and wife.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I can't even imagine the pain he must have felt.

Keith Morrison: How did you hear about it?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Well, he called me.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Crying. I mean, he was sobbing.

Keith Morrison: So he knew it was over.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Oh, yeah.

Keith Morrison: So, devastated.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Yes, he was devastated. Yeah.

It got violent then. The man refused to leave and Bill had to physically kick him out.

Sandra Williams: It was a knockdown, drag out, and Bill was the winner.

Sandra Williams was a friend to both Bill and Vickie. Lived right across the street from them. Saw the fight that day. And what happened next.

Sandra Williams: When he got kicked out-- Vickie said that she was gonna go with 'im, and she was takin' Wendy, you know, the baby. And so they moved out. And they moved in together.

To this house across town. But, of course, the story didn't end there.  Bill told his friends and family he was willing to let Vickie go . But not his daughter. Not Wendy.

Sandra Williams: Bill came over and talked to us. And said that he was gonna file for divorce, and get custody of Wendy.

That's how Sharon remembers it, too.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): He wanted to-- get Wendy away from Vickie. That was his intentions.

But a globe-trotting Marine trying to get child custody in 1972? That was a fight Bill was not likely to win. Unless…

Sandra Williams: You had to have, you know, proof. And Bill had proof.

Miller believed the man who had stolen, his wife, his one-time good friend George Hayden, had also been stealing his money. By running up charges on Miller's credit cards. He even got a lawyer.

Sandra Williams: He showed me the lawyer’s card and said, "This is my lawyer and it's for George, for forging my name on the credit cards. And for custody of Wendy." He says, "I am gonna get Wendy."

But there's one small detail in the next part of the story. A strange little detail that Wendy's family believed had big implications.  Bill Miller didn't have a telephone. If Vickie needed to speak to him she would ring Sandra, who would then summon Bill.

And then that night, a little late for an evening call, Sandra's phone rang, and it was Vickie.

Sandra Williams: And she asked if Bill was home. That she needed to talk with 'em and I told 'er, I said, "No, I don't think he's home." Around 9:30 she calls me back again. And this time I'd say she's agitated. You know, she's upset. And she s-- said, "Is he home yet?" So-- I went over and knocked on Bill's door. And he answered it and I told him Vickey was on the phone. He came over to the house. They talked 5 or 10 minutes and then he told me he was going to meet Vickie." She says she wants to talk to me about coming back. And I just told him to be careful.

Oh, and he intended to be. As he left, he grabbed his pistol. Said he was afraid he might be ambushed.

It was a few hours later when the police came knocking at Williams door.

Sandra Williams: And that's when they informed me that Bill was dead.

Sharon's family got word about the same time. Vickie called to tell them.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): She called my mother in the middle of the night and said-- "Billy's dead. He's-- he's shot."

Keith Morrison: Just like that?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): That's it. And hung up.

Sandra Williams gave a statement to police. Vickie and her boyfriend, George Hayden, were brought in for questioning, but detectives felt there wasn't enough evidence to file charges.

The family saw Vickie for the last time at Arlington National Cemetery during Bill's funeral.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): She wouldn't talk to us. And we couldn't figure out why.

Keith Morrison: She wouldn't talk to you?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Unh-uh. Unh-uh. And George was with her.

That would be her boyfriend, George Hayden. The Marine who'd taken Bill's place in his marriage bed.

Four months after the funeral at Arlington, George and Vickie got married. George, you may remember, is the husband who later became a lawman. Did well for himself. Eventually rose to the rank of police chief. Did either of them have something to do with Miller's end?

All those stories of childhood: lies! It was as if the bottom had fallen out of Wendy's world.

And, now, even though the Navy's original investigative report had finally offered her a glimmer of truth, it was frustratingly incomplete. Nothing more than a thin outline of events on the night her father was killed. An outline that raised more questions than it answered.

For example: the M-16 shell casings that were found at the crime scene could not be matched to a specific rifle. The bullets that were fired? Fragmented on impact -- useless as evidence.

And then there was the statement by Wendy's own mother -- who admitted to investigators it was she who called Miller less than an hour before his murder. Said they agreed to meet that night to talk about getting back together. But Miller, she said, was a no-show --had stood her up.

Was the timing of the meeting just a horrible coincidence, or a calculated set up?

Keith Morrison: What did it do to your relationship with your mother?

Wendy Miller McGee: Basically I just-- I didn't want to talk to her. I didn't-- I didn't want to have a relationship with her. 'Cause I felt like that I was being lied to.

Keith Morrison: It's a tough thing to deal with?

Wendy Miller-McGee: It's very tough. 'Cause, I mean, it's-- it's basically ripped my family apart that I've known all my-- all my life. And all because I asked a question.

Aunts, uncles. Even her brother, Sterling, turned against her.

Wendy Miller-McGee: It's affected him and his family, and his kids. It's affected me and my family, and my kids. Basically I've-- torn apart. I am the black sheep. I mean, this comment's been made, "Why couldn't you just let it go?" I can't. I can't.

As her suspicions grew, Wendy's allegiance began to shift from her mother's family to her father's.

Tamara. Kimberly . Uncle Charlie all shared Wendy's interest in finding out what really happened the night Bill Miller was murdered.

But there was one family member, Aunt Sharon, who was pursuing more than the truth. After 36 years, she was still seeking justice.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I'm not gonna let it go.

And actually, she couldn't let it go. Had no choice.  Not since she sat at her mother's side, watched her die. And made that solemn promise.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): When my mom passed away, I swore to her that I wouldn't stop pursuing this. So, I assured her I would carry on the fight. And--

Keith Morrison: How'd you put it?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I told her that some day, I just knew, that we were going to bring George and Vickie to justice. She knew she wouldn't be around, but--

Keith Morrison: She believed you would do it?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): Uh-huh. She's helping me. There's not a doubt in my mind.

When Sharon first began looking into her brother's murder back in 1972, she had nothing more than a typewriter and telephone.

A generation later, a computer. A decade after that, the Internet. Followed in recent months as she tells it, by some divine inspiration.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I started collecting angels. You'll see I've got angels all over my house. And these angels, I just know-- knew one day, they're going to help me with this situation. And they did. For about two months Billy was real heavy on my mind again, just real heavy to the point where I knew I had to do something again.

Keith Morrison: What do you mean--heavy on your mind?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): --just heavy on my mind because I just kept thinking about him constantly, day and night.

Keith Morrison: Why would that come up, do you think?

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): My mom. Because I always pray to my mom and the angels to help me.

Anyway, I sat down at the computer. And for two days, I looked and looked. And I finally found Lindell Kay.

Lindell Kay. A crime reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News.

Lindell Kay: She was lookin' for someone who could help her solve her brother's homicide.

Kay maintains a cold case Web site called "off the cuff."

Lindell Kay: We do a-- cold case series every week. So, I-- I emailed her back and said that we could try that.

Kay searched through the paper's files and found this one brief story written the day after the murder -- but nothing at all about the investigation. And not enough for one of his cold case articles. He e-mailed Sharon, asked her for more information.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I've got pages and pages and pages of stuff on Billy. And I e-mailed all the important stuff to Lindell.

Lindell Kay: So, this case was-- was-- very easy to do, because she provided me with pictures and a lot of the details.

One of the photos Sharon sent? This one of Wendy, next to her father's headstone at arlington cemetery.

A few days after the article ran, an elderly woman used her copy of the paper as floor covering for her new litter of puppies. And as she spread the paper out she saw that photo and gasped. Her daughter, Bonnie Sharpe, had once been Wendy's babysitter.

Lindell Kay: And she-- she saved it for her daughter. When her daughter come over, she said, "You know, have you seen this in the newspaper?" And up until that point, she had not. And that picture, and some of th-- parts of the story where Wendy said how much she had missed her father, and had to spend all these years without her father, really affected Bonnie. And she told me that that was the entire reason that she couldn't hold in what she knew about what happened any longer. And that's why she went to the sheriff's department.

Just coincidence, of course, that she was here at all. Serendipitous. An unread article, noticed only once underfoot. And now, here she was, about to spill the secret she said her own fear had kept bottled up since 1972. She was afraid of what she said she knew: the names. Of the people who were there, along the side of that darkened road, the night Bill Miller was murdered.

It was a chain of events that pulled Bill Miller to his untimely death that September night in 1972. First, the phone. Finally, the bark of an M-16. That much investigators knew back in 1972. But what happened between the moments Bill Miller came to the phone, entered his car, went to his death?

By the end of that first investigation, police had no solid evidence connecting anyone to the crime. Detectives weren't even sure how the murder was carried out. So many questions: Why did Bill Miller stop by the side of the road? How did the killer -- or killers -- lying in wait, know where that would be? Why, with the engine running, did Miller get out of his car? If he feared an ambush, as he told his neighbor, why did he leave his pistol behind on the front seat?

Maybe a person who was there could say.

And that's why reporter Lindell Kay's story, strewn on someone's floor, read quite by chance, finally produced a breakthrough. It was Wendy's former babysitter who read that story. Saw what had to be revealed, and stepped forward. With a name: a boyfriend. Who, she says, once told her. He was there.

Lindell Kay: I think he was 16, 17 years old at the time. You know, why he would be there, I don't, I don't really know.

Detectives tracked him down in Illinois -- Rodger Gill, a former Marine, who is alleged to have admitted being there, on that moonlit road, when the murder went down. Now with Gill's statement, along with information uncovered in 1972, investigators were able to piece together a new version of Bill Miller's murder.

And this one had a very disturbing twist. Authorities are now working on the theory that it was indeed Wendy's mother who placed the call. To set a trap. But, this new story goes, that wasn't all she did.

She was also, they say, willingly and deliberately, playing an active role in his murder. She was, authorities believe, the bait by the side of the road. The reason why Miller pulled over when he did.

Lindell Kay: Authorities say they had an ambush set up on the side of Western Boulevard, where Vickie would act like her car was broken down. And he would stop to help her. When he stopped to help Vickie, that's when authorities say that George was hidin' in the, in the ditch. And that he shot Bill twice with the M-16. Once in the back, that severed his spinal cord. And once in the head.

And this latest version of the murder matches a witness's account --a motorist who told detectives he had seen 4 cars pulled over the along that road -- just minutes before Miller's murder.

D.A. Dewey Hudson: As a, as a result of that information, we were able to-- reopen the investigation.

Finally, something solid for district attorney Dewey Hudson, who suddenly had not one but two witnesses with fresh testimony on what had been a very cold case.

George Hayden - former police chief - was arrested first. Then detectives came calling for Wendy's mother, Vickie, picked her up in her home, carried her off in cuffs. She is 58 now, and is charged -- 36 years after it happened -- with the murder of her husband.

But there was a third arrest the witness, Rodger Gill. Why him? His statement is sealed. Authorities won't say why he was at the murder scene or what his role may have been. However, said the prosecutor, Gill's eyewitness account, if true, under North Carolina law, could be seen as an admission of guilt, thus his arrest.

Thirty-six years, Bill's sister Sharon, kept it alive. And then:

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): From the time that I talked to Lindell, the first time, until they were sittin' in jail was three weeks.

Sharron Aguilar (Foster): I just knew. I mean, I knew that's what was going to happen. I just knew it.  Because I-- Mom helped me. She got all these angels together, and they helped me.

Tamara: Aunt Sharon called me and told me. And I literally just cried and sobbed. I said, I am so happy.

Kimberly: I was at work. Called me on my cell phone. "Oh, hi Aunt Sharon, What's up?" "They've arrested George." And I stood up and my whole body started shaking. And I kind of did a walk around the office and like, "I got to leave! I have to leave! Went out to my car and I sobbed and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed.

Keith Morrison: Why does it matter? What difference does it make to survivors that they ever arrest somebody?

Kimberly: Do you know what it does?

Keith Morrison: What does it do?

Kimberly: It validates their life.

Tamara: That's right.

Keith Morrison: Really?

Kimberly: It validated his life.

And Wendy? Well, Wendy was, frankly, a wreck. It's one thing to suspect your own mother. But this?

Keith Morrison: Did you ever think you'd see your mother arrested for this?

Wendy Miller-McGee: No.

Keith Morrison: What did you think would happen?

Wendy Miller-McGee: Actually, I did not think anything was ever going to come of it. Video: Through stories of their father, Millers get closer

Keith Morrison: How did you find out about it?

Wendy Miller-McGee: The police department in Jacksonville called me and said we had just arrested your mom and George for the murder of your father and I just - I was in shock. I was literally in shock. I was hysterical. I went home. Because I could not function. I could not talk. I could not breathe.

Keith Morrison: That's when you realized your life was unalterably changed.

Wendy Miller-McGee: Yeah. That was hard. I did not go to work for what, 2 days, 3 days. I was a wreck. It's-- it's hard. That's my mom. Regardless, that is my mom.

Vickie Babbitt and George Hayden are out on bail and have said they're innocent. Rodger Gill is fighting extradition from Illinois--his family says, he, too, is innocent. None of the three has had a chance to enter a plea in court and have declined to comment about the charges they face.

Less than hour before he was murdered, Bill Miller said he feared an ambush. Thought it was a set-up. Went so far as to bring a pistol. Yet he pulled over along a dark road and got out of the car without his gun. What would have made this combat veteran let his guard down so quickly?

The answer Wendy fears, if true, is difficult even to think about. Was she in her mother's arms that night beside the road? Is that why Miller got out the of the car without his gun? Was that, finally, the real story of the death of Bill Miller? That Wendy was an unwitting accomplice to her own father's murder.?

Wendy Miller-McGee: I think about that all the time. If the accusations are true, that my mom led him there, and was involved in it, had knowledge of it, where was I?

Careful, someone might have told her, about what you wish to know.

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