December 7th, 2009
03:10 PM ET

Motive in Maine town killing?


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/07/art.crime.wabi.house.jpg caption="Valerie and Michael Miller were found dead inside their Webster Plantation home, investigators said."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The couple slain in a small Maine town may have been killed because of the husband’s illicit drug and cash transactions, a family member of one of the victims told CNN. “Trust, me I got first hand knowledge of that,” said Rebecca Bickford, a cousin of Valerie Miller, who with her husband, Michael Miller, were found dead in their home in Webster Plantation, a community of a roughly 80 people.

Bickford said Mr. Miller sold drugs from his mobile house. “The number one thing would have to be pain killers,” Bickford said. “My cousin, Valerie, wasn’t into the whole business aspect. She was into the liking the money and material things. She disagreed with it, him being into that business, because it’s really dangerous, especially up in that area.”

Bickford also said Mr. Miller operated as an informal pawn broker and moneylender. “”He was into having his own pawn shop, buying cigarettes from a different state and selling them,” she said. According to Bickford, Mr. Miller would loan cash at a 50 percent interest rate, plus collateral.

Authorities would not comment on Bickford’s allegations of drug dealing. However, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, did confirm to CNN that Mr. Miller loaned cash. “We know he lent money to people,” McCausland said. “But beyond that, what the terms were and whether this has anything to do with his and his wife’s death is something we’re not getting into.”

Investigators won’t say how the couple died. They are looking for a woman seen leaving the Millers’ house on the day the bodies were found. McCausland, who would not disclose of death, said the woman seen leaving the house was described as middle-aged, with a ponytail and glasses. “I think we’ve had a few more inquiries of reported sightings, of people who might thinks he is, but at this person the face still does not have a name,” McCausland told CNN today.

The killings, the town's first in at least 20 years, have shocked the region and shattered the area's sense of security and peace.

"You kind of wonder, 'Is it a threat to anybody else?' " Bob Jacobs, a grocery store owner, asked. "People are kind of nervous. Do I open the door for somebody, or do I not open the door for somebody?"

Theo Jipson, a neighbor of the Millers, fondly remembered the couple.

"They were nice people," she said. "I would usually see her at the grocery store shopping. ... He was very, very kind. He always said, 'Look, if you folks need any help, don't be afraid to call me.' "

Bickford said Mrs. Miller was “generous and caring.” She described Mr. Miller, who she said worked at a lumber mill for 29-years, as someone “willing to do just about anything illegal or whatever to bring their family ahead in this economy.”

Bickford suspects Mr. Miller’s behavior made his wife a victim.

“My cousin Valerie was there at the wrong time. He was the one that did all these business deals. She was being a wife.”

Anyone with more information is being asked to contact the Maine State Police at 207-866-2122.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
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