Thursday, September 16, 2021

Don Miller, East Lansing serial killer, up for parole, ELPD not in favor

February 5, 2021
<p>Don Miller, an East Lansing serial killer, was denied parole nine times. Photo via Michigan Department of Corrections</p>

Don Miller, an East Lansing serial killer, was denied parole nine times. Photo via Michigan Department of Corrections

Don Miller, an East Lansing serial killer, is up for parole this April, his ninth chance according to a Lansing State Journal (LSJ) report. He killed four women between January 1977 and August 1978.

Martha Sue Young, Miller's first victim, was engaged to him. Before Young disappeared, she ended their relationship.

In the 18 months after Young disappeared, Miller killed Marita Choquette, a 27-year-old editorial assistant at WKAR-TV, 21-year-old Wendy Bush and 30-year-old Kristine Stuart. In their family's Delta Township home, Miller raped 14-year-old Lisa Gilbert and attempted to kill both her and her 13-year-old brother Randy Gilbert.

Randy Gilbert recounted his experience to parole board officials four times. Earlier this month, Randy and Lisa Gilbert said in a phone call with parole board officials that Miller shouldn't be paroled. Randy Gilbert said in the LSJ report that reliving the experience is something he is willing to do if it will keep Miller in prison.

In exchange for leading police to Young's and Stuart’s bodies, Miller pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter. He also revealed details of Choquette's and Bush’s deaths. An indictment against Miller in Ingham County on second-degree murder charges for the deaths of Stuart and Young never made it to trial, according to the LSJ.

Prison officials found a strangling device made from shoestring and barrel buttons, a garrote, in Miller's cell at Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County in 1994. He was convicted of possessing a weapon in prison, an additional 20- to 40-year prison sentence.

Miller is a prisoner at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. State officials denied him parole in 2016. Miller will be released in 2031 if he serves his full sentence.

Law enforcement officials, his victims and a witness who testified during Miller's trial in 1979 have urged parole board officials not to grant Miller parole citing that he is still a danger to the community, according to the report.

Lt. Scot Sexton of the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) Investigations/Detective Bureau told The State News that ELPD is not in favor of Miller's release. Sexton said he will write a letter on behalf of the ELPD to the Michigan Parole Board, with approval from the deputy chief or chief, recommending that Miller be denied parole.

"I type up a little a two- or three-paragraph letter saying that from our training experience people who are guilty and convicted of these types of crimes ... (have an) extremely high recidivism rate," Sexton said. "It's way higher than other crimes people are released on parole for. Our consistent recommendation for (Miller) is to deny him parole. ... If he is released, we personally feel that it's a very high likely scenario that he would."

Sexton also noted Miller's conduct in prison.

"Studies have shown that pedophiles, people who pursue young children as victims, have a very high ... recidivism rate," Sexton said. "... The idea too that while in prison, he tacked on more time for himself by possessing a weapon. In prison, he is still making weapons and storing them himself, which leads us to think that the public would be in danger, particularly young children."

Attorney General Dana Nessel also urged officials to deny Miller's upcoming chance at parole in a letter to the state's parole board earlier this month. She believes Miller is still a "predator," according to the LSJ.

"The release of Don Miller will absolutely endanger this community from the moment he steps outside prison walls," Nessel said. "The horrific details of his crimes are enough to prove that this man is where he belongs, behind bars, ensuring he can never again harm any person."

Letters regarding Miller's upcoming parole can be directed to the Michigan Parole Board at: Michigan Parole Board, Michigan Department of Corrections, P.O. Box 30003, Lansing, MI 48989.

Chris Gautz, a spokesman at the Michigan Department of Corrections, said Miller will be interviewed by a member of the state's parole board in April. A date has not been set.

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