Lula Gillespie-Miller gave authorities permission to pass along her contact information to her grown daughter, but the woman who disappeared without a trace in 1973 from Laurel, Indiana, refuses to explain why she left her home in the first place.
People reports that Gillespie-Miller, now 69, was found in a South Texas town after authorities from her home state of Indiana tracked her down. Detective Sgt. Scott Jarvis of the Indiana State Police re-opened the case, not expecting to find Gillespie-Miller alive. Nonetheless, he was just as surprised as her family members when he found her living in Texas.
Indiana State Police Sgt. John Bowling said that although the missing woman agreed to give her daughter, Tammy Miller, access to her contact information, she adamantly refused to discuss why she left in the first place. He also said that Miller, who now goes by a new name, more than likely used an alias to get away, and over the years, married at least twice.
“It is believed that she had at times lived under an alias, but also along the way had been married and remarried.”
Debby Dyer, a friend of Tammy Miller, told People magazine that although Miller was elated, it also left her with frustration and anger when she found out that her mother was alive all these year.
“She was just hurt and angry and happy she was alive. She’s going through a roller coaster of emotions.”
Understandably, the public is eager to know why a mother would leave her children (Miller left four children behind) and assume a new identity. Yet, since she signed all of her children over to her parents before disappearing, she didn’t commit a crime, and therefore isn’t obligated to reveal her new name. She also doesn’t have to explain why she left.
However, there are a few reasons that may explain why she would leave her children, one who had just been born before she left, to start a new, anonymous life. According to a police statement, she “felt she was too young to be a mother at the time and signed her children over to her parents.”
“It could be everything from trying to escape some type of family situation they feel is impossible, to mental illness to crime. She might have been trying to protect her children for all we know.”
One conceivable theory is that she wanted to be removed from an area and experience that left her scarred, heart-broken, and in fear of her life. It’s an event her daughter, Tammy, posted about a few years back while trying to search for her mother.
In 2013, Tammy Miller made a plea for justice. She wrote that just before her mother left, she was reportedly raped, beaten, and thrown over a bridge to die. The men who allegedly raped her were reportedly in a motorcycle gang known for violence. They probably didn’t think Miller would survive, much less file a police report against them before disappearing.
“Apparently she was at Haspin Acres one night in 1973 when four men attacked, raped, beat her and then threw her body over the Laurel bridge to die. I’m sure that they thought she wouldn’t make it but she did. She crawled up to the road and made it home to her mother’s house, Emma Gillespie. Emma called the police and a statement was taken but the report was never filed. The next day she disappeared and never heard from again. In the statement she names the men who did this to her.”
Tammy Miller wrote that the men suspected of raping and beating her mother are still alive and well, and still causing trouble. The worried daughter also wrote that in another strange twist of events, her mother’s brother was murdered and found rolled up into carpet.
“All the men in the statement are still alive and some of them are still to this day causing problems…. Another strange thing that happened in recent years is that Lula’s brother Melvin was found murdered and rolled up in a piece of carpet.”
Did fear for her own safety cause her to run away? Did she figure that any contact with her children would put them in danger as well? These reasons are all plausible, especially considering Miller came from the small town of Laurel, where according to one of the locals, everyone knows everything about each other.
Although the public may never know why Miller decided to disappear, her daughter, perhaps, will get some answers.
Tammy plans to make contact with the woman formerly known as Lula Ann Gillespie-Miller this weekend. Yet, there is still no guarantee that the now-found mother will reveal to her daughter why she left, and even if she does, Tammy may decide to keep things private. Until then, Miller was clear that she requests privacy during this time.
[Photo by Indiana State Police]