Local News

Willard's Widow Speaks Out, Claims Husband Did Not Kill Eric Miller

Posted August 27, 2003

— A key player in the Eric Miller arsenic poisoning case is weighing his options.

Attorney Rick Gammon told WRAL that he is still deciding whether to appeal a court ruling that forces him to tell what -- if anything -- Derril Willard said about Miller's death.

Meanwhile, Willard's widow broke more than 2 1/2 years of silence, saying her husband did not kill Miller and did not know who did.

Yvette Willard said Tuesday she doubts Gammon will have much information to help solve the case.

She knows her husband had an affair with his co-worker, Ann Miller, Eric Miller's wife.

"We talked about it constantly," Yvette Willard said. "He was up front with me about his involvement with Ann."

But Willard said her husband was not a killer.

"Derril told me right off that he did not kill Eric," she said, "that he did not know who killed Eric."

Eric Miller died more than two years ago of arsenic poisoning. Six weeks later, investigators searched the Willard home. The next day, Derril Willard killed himself. He left a suicide note.

"I saw the note," Yvette Willard said. "All it said was, the only allusion saying he did not kill Eric, and the rest of the note is just apologizing for what he did do."

When asked why she thinks her husband killed himself, Yvette replied: "His reputation was really important to him."

With the affair and accusations, that reputation was ruined. Still, Yvette endured it all.

"Regardless of what our relationship was in our marriage, Derril was always my best friend," she said.

"And to see him trashed; that has been the hardest piece of this. And knowing I have a daughter, and some day, I'm going to have to explain this whole mess to her, and there's no explanation. There are no answers."

There is quite a history behind the Miller case. The medical examiner said Miller was poisoned twice -- the first time on Nov. 15, 2000, when he went bowling with friends. He was released from the hospital more than a week later but soon returned, apparently from another poisoning.

Miller died Dec. 2. Two days later, police searched his wife Ann's workplace and found an arsenic compound.

Derril Willard went bowling with Miller when he was first poisoned. No one has been arrested in this case.

Yvette Willard said she supports the decision to allow a judge to consider what her husband told his lawyer. She hopes it will help put an end to speculation about her husband.

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