Family Of Arsenic Poisoning Victim Speaks Out
Posted May 7, 2002 7:01 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — December 2, 2000 is a day Eric Miller's family will never forget. That day ended his pain, but was just the beginning of theirs.
More than 1 1/2 years after he died from arsenic poisoning, Eric's family is still searching for justice.
His parents and two sisters said after all this time, and after all the evidence that has been collected, they want some closure. However, it may be a long time coming.
"You lay awake at night racking your brain, wanting to know, why? Why is our son dead?" asked Doris Miller, Eric's mother.
"You know, for us, we think about this every day," said Pam Baltzell, Eric's sister.
"To try to fill the void that's been created is impossible," said Leeann Magee, Eric's sister.
An autopsy determined Miller was murdered with at least six doses of arsenic.
"Eric died a very painful and cruel death. Until someone pays the price for that, I don't think we can rest," Magee said.
Raleigh police collected evidence indicating Eric's wife, Ann, and a co-worker had access to an arsenic compound where they worked in Research Triangle Park. Court papers indicate the pair had a romantic relationship.
Following Eric's death, the co-worker, Derril Willard, committed suicide after police searched his home. By now, Eric's family expected the case to be solved.
"I think as a family we've already proved our patience, but we are beginning to tire with this patience," said Verus Miller, Eric's father.
Eric's parents returned to North Carolina last week to see their son's daughter. They are a close family with fond memories.
"I had been at their house before, when he would come home from work, walk through the door. That child's eyes would light up when she saw her daddy," Magee said.
Doris and Verus Miller enjoyed seeing their granddaughter for the first time in over a year, but said it raised painful reminders.
"When we do see her, we think of her great loss," Doris said. "We know how much it would have meant for him to be with us there at this time."
"He won't have the chance to enjoy everything that I've been able to enjoy -- watching my children grow up, graduate from high school and college, get married. It is what what a parent enjoys. He'll never be able to see that," Verus said.
Eric's legacy lives on in several ways.
"I named my son Eric Michael after Eric. So I'll feel like I'll always have a bit of Eric always with me," Magee said.
Eric's fellow scientists at UNC's Lineberger Cancer Center published work he had started on pediatric AIDS.
"That shows how much I think, not just our family has lost, but that what his research could have provided to society as well," Baltzell said.
While Miller's family is talking, his widow, Ann, is not.
She has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the case. However, at least one member of Miller's family has been in contact with her.
"Let me just leave it at this. We probably shouldn't go there, but we have spoken," Baltzell said.
Odds are both that Ann Miller and the rest of her late husband's family have one thing in common. They are all eagerly awaiting
the outcome of a proceeding
that could yield what might be a key piece of evidence in this case.
Prosecutors want Rick Gammon, an attorney who spoke with Ann's former co-worker right before he committed suicide, to reveal the details of their conversation. Gammon has refused.
A Superior Court judge has ordered Gammon to talk. He has appealed.
It is unclear now what court will hear that appeal. That is the next development to watch in this case.
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