Lula Gillespie-Miller: Missing Mom Found Alive After 42 Years

Lula Gillespie-Miller vanished without a trace in 1974. Forty-two years later, the mother of three was tracked down by police and found to be living in Texas. Although her family and friends spent years trying to find her and were terribly concerned about her well-being, Gillespie-Miller admitted to leaving her family behind in the town of Laurel, Indiana, and adopting an alias because she simply did not want to be found.

ABC News reports Lula Gillespie-Miller, who was 28 at the time, felt smothered by her life and her young children. Following the birth of her third child, she gave her parents custody and left home, never to return.

Years later, Lula’s daughter, Tammy Miller, started wondering about her mother and why she and her siblings were left behind with no further contact.

“I grew up thinking that she just could not handle the responsibility of being a mother and she left. We could never understand why she never came back,” Tammy said. Emma Gillespie, Lula’s mother, passed on aged 91, However, she never gave up hope for her daughter’s safe return. “She always left her porch light on every night because she always thought that Lula was going to come home. She never stopped doing it,” she added.

According to Tammy, her family never provided many details about why Lula left home. She always felt that she was simply abandoned. She was later led to believe her mother had died.

“One day in 2010, I Googled her name and then all this stuff started coming up about how she was assaulted in Laurel and thrown over a bridge.”

She said she later grew suspicious because her mother’s body was never found. In an attempt to find closure, she contacted the International Centre for Unidentified and Missing Persons (or DOE Network), who turned the case over to Indiana State Detective Sergeant Jarvis in 2014.

The Doe Network is a 100 percent volunteer organization which assists investigating agencies with cold cases, both on the national and international level. Their mission is to reunite the missing with their families and to identify the deceased who do not have a name.

The only trace left of Lula Gillespie-Miller was a postmarked letter from Richmond, Indiana, from 1975. Armed with the letter, Jarvis delved into a case of an unidentified woman buried in an unmarked grave at the Earlham Cemetery, Richmond.

With cooperation from the Richmond Police Department Records Division, a search warrant was obtained and the body was exhumed for DNA analysis. Although Tammy Miller submitted a sample for reference, the DNA did not match. The woman buried in Earlham Cemetery was not Lula Gillespie-Miller.

Jarvis followed a trail of women who bore a resemblance to Lula Gillespie-Miller and finally settled on a woman who lived in Tennessee in the ’80s before moving to Texas. Jarvis had a hunch the woman who had been living in Texas was operating under an alias — and he was right. He sought the help of Texas Rangers, and on Thursday went to the missing mother’s new home where she “confessed” that she was Tammy Miller’s biological mother.

Although she put her family through years of turmoil, Lula Gillespie-Miller is not guilty of any crime. Indiana police are not releasing the alias she is using or the small southern Texas town where she currently resides. However, Gillespie-Miller told the detectives who tracked her down to pass on her contact information to her daughter, Tammy.

[Image via Lario Tus/Shutterstock]