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Killer's Daughter Wants to See Her Mom, Aunt Tells Court

Posted July 24, 2007

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— The daughter of convicted killer Ann Miller Kontz has been consistently withdrawn and has asked to see her mother, with whom she talks on the phone twice a week, the child's aunt testified Tuesday.

"Clare has expressed some desire to see Ann and has been sad," Danielle Wilson said during a hearing to determine whether the 7-year-old should be allowed to see her mother.

Kontz, who is serving 25 years in prison, pleaded guilty in 2005 to the fatal poisoning in 2000 of her husband, UNC-Chapel Hill pediatric AIDS researcher Eric Miller.

In February, District Judge Phyllis Gorham ordered Wilson, Kontz' sister, and her husband, not to take Clare Kontz to see her mother in prison.

Clare's paternal grandparents, Verus and Doris Miller, who share custody of Clare with the Wilsons, said they do not think it is in the child's best interest to visit Kontz in prison.

Late Tuesday afternoon, however, both sides agreed to have a court-appointed trauma expert assess the child and interview all parties involved, then make a recommendation about visitation.

The Millers' attorney, Robert Ponton, said his clients were unlikely to oppose the expert's recommendation and they hope they never have to go to court again on the case.

"I never would want to say we would automatically agree," Ponton said. "I think it would be extraordinarily unlikely that we would question what an agreeable trauma expert would say."

The Wilsons filed a motion in May asking that Gorham's decision be amended to allow the child to see her mother.

"I am here because I see my child struggling and I see her attitude affecting our house. I see her anger, and I see her sadness," Wilson said Tuesday. "I love her dearly, and that is why this breaks my heart."

Wilson also testified that shortly after they filed the motion, she had her first conversation with Clare about her father's death.

"(Kontz) stepped up, took responsibility," Wilson told the child, who cried after learning of her mother's involvement.

Wilson said Clare still wanted to see her mother, however.

Wilson also testified that she understands the Millers' concerns, but thought their anger over the death of their son makes it difficult for them to deal with what is in Clare's best interest.

"I think they have a lot of anger and hate," she said. "It's totally justified, but I think it skews their ability to look at Clare and what she needs."

The Wilsons are also petitioning the court to add their last name to Clare's, saying they want her to share their name so she fits in completely with their family.

"It is not her fault," Wilson said, adding that Clare's name is different (from her current family's) only because her mother committed murder. "It is not her burden to carry. I want her to know she is a full part of our family. By having her name different, it makes people ask. I don't think it's fair for her to constantly have to account for Ann's action."

The Millers have said they want the child to keep her name as legacy to her father.

The court-appointed trauma expert will also make a recommendation about the name change.

Both parties involved have until December to decide on who will assess Clare and the situation surrounding the legal dispute. If they can't decide by then, they will return to court for a status hearing.

Attorneys for both parties said they are hopeful they can decide on someone by December.

"We'll either resume the hearing, or not, depending on whether there's a consensus as to whether or not the trauma expert has come up with something we can all agree to," the Wilsons' attorney, James Lea, said.

Until then, the Wilsons will abide by Gorham's ruling that Clare not see her mother.

Kontz, 37, who was a researcher at GlaxoSmithKline at the time her husband died, was indicted and imprisoned in September 2004. On Nov. 8, 2005, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, acknowledging she poisoned her then-husband at least twice with arsenic before his death on Dec. 2, 2000.

Initially, Raleigh police did not name Kontz as a suspect in Miller's death, but further into their investigation, investigators discovered an alleged romantic relationship Kontz had with a coworker at GSK and that they both had access to an arsenic compound where they worked.


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  • colliedave Jul 25, 2007

    There is a parenting program at NCCIW Konz should go through before being given visitation rights with the child. There is a room at the prison that is purposely made to look like a living room where supervised visits take place. However, since Konz has such a long sentence the best thing would be to cut all ties.

  • bill0 Jul 25, 2007

    This seems like another situation that the courts just should not be involved with. The sister is now the primary caregiver even though the grandparents have visitation rights. Just like any other parent, the sister should be given considerably leeway in determining what she thinks is best for the child. Judges and "experts" that don't really know the young girl shouldn't try to substitute their opinions unless there is a real and imminent danger to the child. The young girl isn't going to benefit from "Parenting by committee" even if all those involved are well intentioned.

  • Sessy - Italiana Jul 25, 2007

    Always sad when the kids suffer!

  • Rocknhorse Jul 25, 2007

    JAT, again, I see your point and like I said before, I don't know the answer. I think that answer will need to come from professionals who have experience in this type of scenario and a lifetime of counselling/therapy. I hope whatever happens with this child that she is able to grow to have a sense of self-worth and value, that she knows true love from family and friends, that she is able to grow beyond this heinous crime and find truth in herself. It truly breaks my heart!

  • packandcanesfan Jul 25, 2007

    She gets no sympathy from me either. Poisoning someone would be the worst way to kill them because you would see them die before your very eyes a little at a time. Serving up dinner knowing what you were doing to them. IMO, she is cold and calculating and the little girl is better off without her.

  • JAT Jul 25, 2007

    And voter, Ann didn't make the Willard man kill himself. He did that all on his own. He was just as guilty in this as she was except he took the cowardly way out. Two families ruined because of lust and greed. How sad!

  • JAT Jul 25, 2007

    Rock, one visit isn't going to do any harm, at least not more than what has already been done. Maybe the little girl needs to know that her mom loves her; maybe she wants closure; maybe she wants to yell at her. There is nothing the mother can say that will do any more harm. She's already told her about her involvement in the murder. Yes, sometimes kids ask for things that aren't in their best interest; but other times, they know exactly what they need and can see things all the adults in the world can't. Give the kid one visit and see if it helps her. Therapy may not help but maybe seeing her mom one time will help her more than anything else can.

    I'm sorry for the poster who says her grandchild hates his mother. Hate is a strong emotion for a child, and sometimes adults foster that hate unfairingly. When the child gets older, that hate is either going to turn inward or back onto the adults who let it happen.

  • Rocknhorse Jul 25, 2007

    givemeabreak - I'm sorry, I do not know the CA case to which you refer. How long ago? What age was/is the child? Any feedback about how the child has grown/matured? Are you disagreeing w/me b/c that is a similar situation that turned out OK? I would love to know some details.

    I'm not pretending to know the answers to this question. As far as Ann goes, I think she should have received the same punishment that a man would have recieved in the same circumstances (death penalty). However, it IS the child asking and I worry what are the ramifications of having contact with someone of Ann's nature. I want what's best for the child and I think the answers will have to come from professional intervention.

  • wakecountyvoter Jul 25, 2007

    Ann did not think about the little girl when she was killing Eric and driving the other guy to kill himself. All she was thinking about is herself. I say let her sit in jail, without any contact from the little girl, and think about herself all day and night. No sympathy from me for a woman who would deliver communion every Sunday alongside the man she was planning to kill.

  • RoseBud Jul 25, 2007

    Either way, this child loses, Being a 7 year old, she just wants her mommy, the way it used to be is what she is expecting.
    Unless things have changed, I don't think she would be able to have physical contact with her. {I may be wrong there} This could confuse her even more. They said on the news last night, she hasn't seen her in like a year now. As far as the mothers right to see the child, she gave a little of that away each time she poisoned that poor man. She doesn't deserve to see her.
    She took away the father that loved the child & that the child loved. Maybe the best thing for the little girl is for the family to start limiting her contact with the mother and eventually lose all contact until she is old enough to make a more mature decision on whether she even wants the mother in her life all. Like I said, either way, she is going to lose.