View Full Version : Article ~ MINNESOTA PRISON: Stillwater escape attempt fails

01-12-2005, 12:25 PM
MINNESOTA PRISON: Stillwater escape attempt fails

Associated Press

STILLWATER, Minn. - A Stillwater state prison inmate who wanted to escape fashioned a dummy out of blankets and towels and set it up so it would look like he was throwing up in the sink of his cell, prison officials said.

Gary Alan Miller, 43, was found about four hours later, still on the prison grounds.

Revenge suspected

Officials were afraid that Miller, who is serving three consecutive life sentences for a triple homicide, tried to break out to avenge his brother's fatal shooting by a state trooper last month, Department of Public Safety spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Miller showed up in the prison's health care facility about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday and canceled a dental appointment, said Liz Bogut, a Corrections Department spokeswoman.

Dummy discovered

About 2 hours later, a guard discovered the dummy in Miller's cell while he was conducting a count of the prisoners, Bogut said.

The guard knew right away that something was wrong, Bogut said. Authorities immediately blocked roads near the prison and called in a State Patrol helicopter to assist with the search.

A canine unit from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department found Miller about 1:10 p.m. in the welding shop basement. A dog bit him in the thigh and lower leg, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Found in a shop

It was unclear how Miller got to the welding shop basement, and the attempted escape was under investigation. Officials planned to transfer Miller to the state's maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights after his release from the hospital.

Miller, a native of Garden City, was sentenced in 1991 to three life terms for the shooting deaths of his former girlfriend Debra Huck, Robert Wrazidlo and Rose Ann McEiver in Minneapolis. He would have been eligible for release in 2017.

Miller's brother, Rodney Allan Miller, 45, of Minneapolis, was shot to death near Mankato, Minn., after a chase Dec. 24. He was wanted on a felony robbery warrant and had been convicted of conspiring to commit murder, officials said. He was trying to run over trooper Chad Mills when Mills killed him, according to the Public Safety Department.

The troopers involved in Rodney Miller's shooting were notified about the escape attempt, Smith said.

04-06-2005, 12:28 PM
My name is Troy Miller, I am the younger brother of Rodney and Gary.
It is important to point out that revenge was only "suspected" as a motive in Gary's actions...

According to Gary, he was simply using a ploy that he had used many times before to violate prison rules and make contact with inmates that he was not supposed to have contact with.
Because of the incident of Rodney's death, the prison officials took the discovery of Gary's charade quite seriously... to say the least!

Anyway, I simply wanted to point out that news reporters often mistake guesses and opinions as facts.

As for Rodney, I gave him the best funeral that I could.
He was much more than the sum of his newspaper clippings.

04-07-2005, 07:58 AM
((((waxm)))) Your family has been through way too much. My thoughts are with you.

And yes, the media does tend to "fill in the blanks" with whatever makes for good reading *sigh*

04-08-2005, 04:28 PM
Im glad you found PTO. This is a great place for information and support. I hope that you will continue to come to PTO. I am sure you could help with with some peoples questions as well.

I agree with Kim, You and your family have been through a lot and I am deeply sorry for your loss. I will keep you and your family in my prayers...


04-08-2005, 04:48 PM
Thank you both for the welcome. It is almost impossible for anyone who has not loved an inmate to understand the emotions involved.

My hometown newspaper has printed twenty years of my family history from police files and court notices... so when Rodney was killed the locals were not too "upset" over it. What bothered me the most was how quickly the local media jumped on Rodney's criminal history when the officers involved had no idea who he was when he was shot.
My brother was unarmed and shot in the back three times on Christmas Eve, yet after newspaper articles describing his criminal past it was universally believed that he deserved what he got.
Ultimately, Rodney and his actions caused his death.
I actually had people react with surprise that I was having a funeral for him...
Anyway, I sent an article to the Mankato Free Press and told them that they could print it if it was unedited for content, I was amazed when they agreed to do it (especially because I slammed on them for reporting the way they have) and I received many letters and phonecalls offering support and thanks for writing it.
I will post it here for others to read.

04-08-2005, 04:48 PM
This article appeared in the Mankato Free Press. It was not edited for content and was run as a guest editor column.

There are always at least two ways to tell a story, no matter what the story is, it can be told from differing viewpoints and the reader can be left with whatever impression the author desires.

My name is Troy Miller, my brother Rodney was shot and killed on December 24th and my brother Gary has recently been accused of attempting to break out of prison in order to avenge his death. One version of these events has been told recently in this publication.

One could write that Rodney Miller was an un-armed man who was shot three times in the back on Christmas Eve, and now his young son must spend the rest of his life without a father. One could also choose to write that a State Trooper was forced to gun down a “mad dog killer” who was “on a rampage” and now must live with what he was forced to do for the rest of his life. Both versions would be factual to an extent, but neither would represent the truth of what actually occurred.

I want the reader to understand that I have absolutely no animosity toward Officer Chad Mills because of the events that surround the death of my brother. I have not been given enough evidence concerning the event to determine what truly happened for myself. Yet whether Mr. Mills was forced to act in self defense or whether he made a tragic mistake that he should be held responsible for, the decision he made during a few short seconds on that morning will weigh heavily on him for the rest of his life. I wish him nothing but the best in dealing with the emotional burden he must have.

My brother Rodney was a criminal. There is no way to dispute his public record, nor would I feel compelled to make excuses for the many poor decisions that he made in his life. Yet he was also a human being who had emotion and talent beyond his public record. I can not fault this paper for telling his story in the way that it has so far, but again… it is not the whole story.

One could write that Rodney was held in his youth for over a year for a crime that he did not commit and that the experience effected him in a very adverse way, or one could write (as a Mankato Free Press Staff Writer) Robb Murray chose to, that Rodney “beat the rap”. As if freedom of the press somehow negates our jury system. In that particular instance my brother was not guilty of the crime that he was accused of and a jury of his peers found that to be fact. It all depends on how one chooses to tell a story.

I have memories of my brother Rodney holding me in his arms all night long because I had an ear-ache and could not sleep. Our mother had died several years earlier and we had no money for medicine. Yet I had someone who loved me to give me whatever comfort he could. I remember him pulling my sisters and I on a sled for miles through a snowstorm so that we could spend Christmas with our grandmother in Madelia Mn. He was only a teenager but he was saddled with the responsibility of raising four younger children without parents (my fathers criminal record shows the same failures that Rodney eventually had.) Yet none of these events (or the thousands of others I could relate) would change or excuse Rodney’s public behavior as an adult. They would only relate that the criminal the reader has been informed of can not be completely summed up as a human being by utilizing his police log.

The same can be said of my brother Gary who has recently been accused of attempted escape from prison and intent to harm Officer Mills. I have not spoken to Gary in over ten years. It would be factual to say that we “had a falling out” though of course, that would not be the complete story either. I still love my brother Gary very much. Rodney and Gary were very close in age and the bond that they shared was equally close. For whatever reason, Gary has not been allowed to contact us since Rodney was killed and he was not allowed to attend his funeral services. I can only ask the reader to understand how powerful grief can be as an emotion. I can not expect acceptance of Gary’s actions, but he deserves the right to have emotion… he is still a human being.

I understand that there are more than a few individuals in this state who have earned the right to hate my brothers because of the actions that they have taken. The lives that their, completely unacceptable criminal behavior, have tragically altered. I do not write this to negate the emotions of those who love(d), Edward Smith, Robert Wrazidlo, Rose Ann McEiver, or Debra Huck. There is nothing I could say, or have the right to say, that could take away from the horrible effect that my brothers had in the lives of those who loved these individuals. And mentioning my brothers without acknowledging the victims of their tragic decisions would be wrong on every level and standard that we hold as human beings in this society.

I only want the reader to understand that human beings are complicated creatures; that articles and sound-bytes can not sum up the entire life of the person being discussed or the emotional impact that the loss of such an individual had on those of us who knew them. Rodney Miller was my brother, I loved him. He had two sisters who loved him. He had a number of people that he loved. Most of all he had a young son named Matthew who is suffering tragically while the story that is being revealed to you unfolds. I do not ask for sympathy for either of my brothers, I do not have that right and it would be wrong for me to do so if I did. All I ask is that the reader understands the concept of empathy for those of us who have lost someone we love. Rodney Miller was more than the sum of his newspaper clippings. Our family story is a tragic illustration of hopes and dreams that have been dashed by circumstance and a few terrible choices. It could not be written in a newspaper because it involves over 50 years of poor decisions and fate that has been both perverse and morbidly persistent.

All I ask is that the reader stand firm in the understanding that there are no winners in this story, not “law enforcement” and certainly not the “Miller family”. When a death occurs everyone loses.

Thank you for your time.

04-09-2005, 08:27 AM
Bravo, Troy!!!! That was brilliant, and needed to be said. It needs to be said every day, everywhere. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

04-17-2005, 04:27 PM
This was a very well written article Troy.... I am quite surprised as well that they agreed to publish it unedited. But am so happy for you. And thanks to the world wide web if anyone google's his name this article will pop up for them to see. And they will be able to see a little of both sides of the fence instead of just seeing it one sided. I hope to continue to see you on PTO.

Were all here if you need us....

04-29-2005, 10:17 PM
I am very sorry for your losses Troy. I am just now reading this thread. You are an eloquent writer! You are obviously well educated. I am glad you made an effort for people to read more about the stories, and not just believe the first reactions and surmisings they heard about in the media. I am reading between the lines here, but it sounds like somehow you have managed to stay away from criminal activity yourself.

05-05-2005, 01:40 PM
CET- I am reading between the lines here, but it sounds like somehow you have managed to stay away from criminal activity yourself.

Troy- When my mother died I was four, but my brothers were in their teens.
While my sisters and I were sent to foster care when my father returned to prison (he spent a total of 18 years incarcerated for larceny and theft... short periods at one time) my brothers survived in the only way they knew how.

For most of my life I idolized Rodney, in my mind he was something very different than the rest of the world perceived. In a way this was unfair to both of us, because we didn't communicate each others needs and desires in a normal way.
But there was something about his personality that was truly tragic... a sense of loss and emotional detachment that incarceration often brings.
Until the mid eighties, in my youthful mind, he was a clownish prince. Yet one got the sense that he really cared about how the world perceived him and that his intentions were noble.

He was arrested and accused of robbing the Vernon Center bank. His accuser was originally charged with the crime and fingered Rodney as an accompliss.
At that time Rodney was a criminal... but he was a thief, not a strong-arm thug.
I spoke to him about the ethical problems I saw with what he did then but his circumstance had altered and twisted his reality.
He didn't see any problem with "robbing from the rich" and giving to himself and others. At that time he still had an ethical code of sorts, a way to justify his actions.
He claimed to only take what was insured, that the losses were few for the victims of his actions and that his gains were great.

But his treatment by the authorities during his incarceration awaiting trial for the bank robbers changed him in a very dark way. His "freinds" all turned on him, and he was accused of every crime that had occured since his youth.
A jury found him not guilty for the bank robbery (after 18 months of failing to make bail) and his accuser was later exonerated as well (though he was found guilty and served time, the conviction was later overturned when the guilty party was found).

Yet the damage was obviously done. Rodney turned from a "noble Robin Hood" into a hardened master thief with an attitude. It is estimated that in a few years time he had fenced over 3 million dollors worth of farm related equipment and supplies.
He no longer cared about the damage such theft did to individual families.
But mostly, he stopped making freinds.
Instead he had associates, people he could use... and who could not use him.

When one of his partners appeared to be an informant, Rodney killed him.
There was no thought or emotion to it, it was just an act of preservation in his mind.

It is hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced the same things (which is why this forum is so important) but Rodney never changed toward me.
While the rest of the world feared him he was still the same loving brother that I had always known. I saw the changes, but I also understood them in a way.

Rodney didn't stop being a criminal when he was incarcerated, in the eleven years he sat in Stillwater for the killing he smuggled drugs, set up credit card scams, muscled the competition... the whole gambit. But he remained the same brother to me.

Our brother Gary informed on him to get out of crimes he had commited. But Rodney always forgave his weaknesses. He always protected him.

When Rodney was released in 94' he had completely lost any and all respect for society. There were no illusions that he planned to "go straight" and he had changed from theft to armed robbery. He had become truly dangerous to those who were not on his short list of loved ones.
He got out in late spring and was in federal prison before Christmas.

Because our conversations were few and far between they were often very deep and meaningful. I am thankful for that.
He was the type of person who could walk out of a room in 84' and return ten years later, picking up the conversation as if no time had passed.
Time is measured in a different way for career criminals.
It doesn't pass so much as suspend itself.

Anyway, I'm sorry to ramble.
Yes... I avoided a criminal life.
Rodney served my time for me, he was my example when temptations arose.
I remain poor... but free!

My only goal in life is to insure that my children never know the pain of lost opportunities and the loneliness of seperation.
My family folded before I was born in many ways, my only job is to insure that the next generation isn't marked for failure because of it.
I wish that Rodney and Gary could have been satisfied as I am in being such a buffer... a dam to hold back the flood. But they were too deeply scarred by circumstance and too angered by the unfairness of it.