Future holiday get-togethers are going to be a little awkward for this family.
27-year-old Joseph Miller and 24-year-old Nikki Reed lived with their five boys, all of whom were younger than five years of age.
Well, that was what they reported to the State Department of Human Services, at least.
Relatives of the family hadn’t seen the youngest, one-year-old Deuntay Miller, for a while.
Two years, in fact.
They were beginning to wonder if the little guy was dead. While Miller and Reed told family members that the boy was being taken care of by relatives, Tammy Johnson, Joseph Miller’s sister, told relatives:
I’m getting the feeling that the baby is not alive.
While nobody had seen Deuntay Miller, Nickella Reid had been collecting her $822 welfare check and food stamps for five kids every month.
I’m sure it was well-spent.
Strangely, a baby that had apparently disappeared isn’t what brought the authorities to the door of the Miller/Reed residence.
What brought the investigators around was a report of a child that had been burned over a third of his body by hot water in the Miller/Reid kitchen.
It didn’t take long before Nickella told the officers that the scalding was Joseph Miller’s fault.
While the police were taking that down, Nickella Reid told them about the death of her son two years ago.
Nickella Reid, a virtual cornucopia of knowledge, also told the investigators that they could find the baby’s remains in Tammy Johnson’s house, specifically in the ceiling of Tammy Johnson’s basement, about five miles from Joseph Miller and Nikki Reed’s home.
According to police reports Nickella told the authorities that Joseph Miller attempted to dispose of the baby’s remains by setting them on fire on a barbecue grill, in an attempt to avoid cremation costs.
At some point, probably while coming over to his sister’s house to do laundry, Joseph Miller hid Deuntay’s charred body in the ceiling.
Nobody is quite sure exactly how long the baby had been in Tammy Johnson’s ceiling. I’m sure more information will reveal itself. After all, it’s not every day that parents either kill their children or let them die, slap them on the grill for a while and then try to hide the remains.
The other Miller/Reid kids are going to need therapy for a long time. I’m sure it’s hard for a five-year-old to understand why mommy and daddy killed and hid your baby brother in your aunt’s house, you know?
Nickella Reid and Joseph Miller were arraigned on the 24th of November, 2007, on charges of first and second-degree child abuse.
Once the baby’s remains are examined and a cause of death is confirmed, it is possible they will both be facing murder charges.
Tammy Johnson, in an interview with the local news, told reporters:
It’s my brother and I love him, but I’m trying to figure out what happened, what happened to your mind? What state of mind were you in to do this to your child?
That’s pretty much the question everyone asks when they hear these kinds of things happening.
I’ve yet to hear a good answer.