James Wray Miller: Finally Home
This post was previously titled: What Happened to James Wray Miller?
James Wray Miller's daughter Kristene reached out to me asking me to bring attention to her missing father's story. I am happy to do so. I do want to point out that there are very little details surrounding this case. What you read here is absolutely all that is known in the case so far. Also, I want to commend Miller's daughter Kristene who not only made this entry very easy to write. But who also single handily has fought to try and find out what happened to her father. She has provided me all the info. I didn't need to assist her with anything other than writing this entry.
Popular Song at the Time
Human- Human League
(Credit for Video HERE)
Name: James Wray Miller
Date Of Birth: April 9th 1956
Parents: Elmer "Mike" Miller & Mary Jane Miller
Girlfriend (At The Time): Sue Grewell
Education: Dropped out of school in the 10th Grade. Acquired GED.
Date Missing: 12/9/1986
Missing From: Ames, Iowa
Height and Weight: Around 6'1 & Between 175 and 200 lbs
Eyes and Hair: Blue Eyes, Brown Hair
Distinguishing Characteristics: Dimple in Chin, Dental Plate for 2 Front Teeth
Medical Conditions: Alcoholic
“He wasn’t a bad person. When he was sober, he had a really good heart,” Feldhaus said in a recent phone interview from her home in Webster City, Iowa. “When he was drunk, he was a different person,”
Another Pic showing him a little older and with a Mustache
Circumstances of Disappearance:
James Wray Miller was awaiting trial for allegedly robbing the Randall Story State Bank in Randall, Iowa on August 8th, 1987. On December 9 of 1987 Miller was staying at his parents house while awaiting trial. While they were out James Wray Miller took 2 checks from his parents home, And along with his car he left never to be seen again. (One of the checks were cashed. The other was not) He was legally declared dead in 1999. James Wray Miller had a pretty good rap sheet up until his disappearance as documented below. Although with the exception of the Bank Robbery (No one was hurt) and him striking a Police Officer while intoxicated. He didn't seem to be a violent individual. Now there is some discussion among his family of whether he actually robbed the bank or not. An anonymous tip was called into the F.B.I. four days after the bank robbery stating his then girlfriend Sue Grewell was overheard discussing his involvement in the robbery. The amount taken from the Robbery wasn't a big amount at all. A measly $2,596. (The small amount taken does not condone the act however.) He was awaiting trial when he apparently fled. No doubt partially due to him being understandably scared. Since he fled the trial was never held. And he was never found guilty. According to his daughter. The F.B.I. would pay their family a visit for years afterwards thinking that they knew where he was. Even though they were wandering about his whereabouts as well. He was legally declared dead in 2000.
DES MOINES TRIBUNE- 10/23/1974
AMES DAILY TRIBUNE- 8/12/1975
AMES DAILY TRIBUNE- 9/13/1975
AMES DAILY TRIBUNE 9/13/1975
DES MOINES REGISTER- 7/28/76
DES MOINES REGISTER 8/15/1986
The information obtained here came from his daughter Kristene's persistence in finding out what happened. She believes she has found a match. And there are tests currently underway to determine if this John Doe is in fact her father. I must say, She could do what I do. And probably be better at it than I.
YOLO COUNTY SHERIFF: JOHN DOE CASE # 6397-301-1987
September 19th 1987
This John Doe was recovered deceased in the Sacramento River when he tried to save a drowning woman who's truck plunged into the river in September of 1987. The Tower Bridge was raised without warning. Sending the truck into the water. Patti Fink, A 51 Year Old Alcoholics Anonymous Counselor drowned as a result. Another passenger in the truck a James Shaughnessy also drowned. There was also someone in the truck bed. She survived the incident. This John Doe dove into the river in an attempt to save her. He also drowned. His body was recovered 3 days later. The entire incident was a fuck up by the bridge tender who was drunk at the time. (Michael Souza, 38 of Rio Linda Apparently Michael Foster Souza struggled with Alcoholism for the remainder of his life and passed away in 2002 of cirrhosis of the liver) Apparently Fuck Ups are also in the nature of the County Coroners Office at the time because they cremated this John Does remains before fingerprints or dentals could be done.
The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California) 9/21/1987
Santa Cruz Sentinel- 9/24/1987
Reno Gazette Journal- 1/9/1988
MORE TO THE STORY
Apparently he was initially identified per documentation discovered on him when his body was discovered. Turns out he was not that person. The John Doe was carrying a Birth Certificate in the name of Daniel Joseph Read. He was still alive in Missouri at the time. Mr. Read did live in California at one time. And he had been missing that copy of his Birth Certificate since 1969. Apparently it was stolen out of his truck at some point.
Santa Cruz Sentinel 10/11/1987
Then another man came forward claiming the John Doe was his brother. A Steve Keith came forward and claimed the John Doe was his brother Anthony Curtis Keith. Turns out Steve Keith was a Con Man and was looking to obtain a Death Certificate for the purpose of changing identities. He mailed the cremated remains back to the Coroner's Office with an apology. Didn't help the idiot tho. He was charged with Body Snatching.
Los Angeles Times- 10/23-1987
Since that time. This John Doe has never been identified.....
WHAT DO YOU READERS THINK?
Pic Courtesy of Kristene Feldhaus
Turns out Kristene was correct the entire time. The Bridge Hero turned out to be her dad! I wanna say something real quick about her and her family. Kristene is about as unique a woman as you'll ever meet. Her and I have been close since she asked me to do her father's story. So close now I call her my sis. I've only met a few people as determined as she is. As she was to find her father. And I'm extremely grateful that I was contacted by her. And that she is now my friend. She and I even vent on each other. Just like siblings would. I can't say enough about her.
This part was written by Kristene herself (My Sis :)
Quite a bit has happened since I first reached out to you regarding some added help in broadcasting my father's disappearance and my apparent discovery of his final truth. When I originally reached out I had seen your blog and broadcast on the missing Facebook page that I had joined when first trying to find my dad.
In July 2018 after months of looking at my deceased fathers pictures the Coroner from YOLO County called me and verified what I had known all along. I had found my father who had died in 1987 while trying to save a truck full of individuals who had driven off of the Tower Bridge due to not seeing any warning lights that are normally activated while the bridge is raised for a passing ship. The night my father died he was talking to another transient on the banks of Sacramento River when they both witnessed the accident unfold. Dad had heard the screams and raced in to help but unfortunately he died in the process. The active year of searching for dad was very unreal to me because I was racing against a clock. The days were winding down on my grandmothers life and I knew at age 93 that we had to hurry. I wanted desperately to tell her that her son was a hero and that she should be proud. I never got to do that because she passed 3 weeks before the call was made to me. I tried everything in my power to get the final results before she passed- I even called the top boss for DOJ in California by getting a "name" and googling it. The man was shocked to hear my voice on the other line but I needed to let them know the importance of hearing the DNA results. Fast forward to the end of my search. I was able to fly into Sacramento and meet the Coroner who made my father her mission. Her Doe needed to go home and certainly someone had to be looking for him. I was- for a long time before I ever named my last baby after dad. Technology and the internet really is what helped me verify and close this very sad chapter of my life. During my search for dad I had to find someone who I could talk to that was not my husband. A husband can only see pictures of deceased John Does and hear my complaints for so long. I didn't want to drive him more crazy than I already had. Shurlock received my email while I worked a graveyard shift in surveillance at my local Casino. A job that really made me lose my faith in humanity some days. Watching Santa get arrested and shootings doesn't help one really see a great future. I was happy to see a fast response by him and shortly we were on the phone discussing my findings. Thanks to Shurlock he helped product a piece on dad that was close to perfect. Though I have found out some details have changed regarding my father via conversations with the family that I can have now that we know his eternal status.
I brought dad home in August and he has celebrated birthdays with us, Christmas, been at local politicians offices, and also he had his first birthday balloon since 1986. Shurlock and I have not lost touch at all and I keep an eye on his writings and researching which shows his true dedication to the missing and the family members left behind.
Since returning with dad I have tried numerous times to visit with local politicians and far off elected officials in whatever office will hear my plea of the importance of NamUs. I found dad simply because I had a Coroner who utilized NamUs for her unknowns. Our Country has a huge epidemic far worse than measles and far worse than the local celebrity scandal. We have tens of thousands missing and more Unidentified Doe's The search engine left me with options of States to search, gender, race, dates missing, physical characteristics and so forth. I found dad within 2 months of knowing about NamUs. I had called the NamUs reps and she had processed my missing persons report for my dad and I went to the local Sheriffs office to give my DNA sample. The initial thought or statement was 3-6 months and that scared me because I wanted to let grandma know and it was hard keeping this secret. The local police department had become a headache for me because they refused to acknowledge dad as a missing person. He had been declared dead since 2000 and they didn't want that headache. NamUs fought for me and apparently DCI even got involved. The whole time I had dad in NamUs his profile was never public because the police department would not sign off on it. At least I had my DNA processed and we got to add grandma's in as well.
The reason I want NamUs to become a legal step for law enforcement and medical examiners is so that a family of a missing individual can get their family members information put into NamUs rather quickly and in the end- if their body is found years down the road in another State then there will already be dental, DNA, and identifying information that can potentially be matched with that newly found John/Jane Doe. Law enforcement should not have to hold a family back in finding their loved one like so many are. So many families are missing their loved ones for years without needing it to be the case. I could have potentially found dad in 2009 if I knew about the program and it was more of a public knowledge factor. Family could have had the answers almost a decade before. How sad that we had to suffer for so much longer. I cried far too many tears during each of my pregnancies and was devastated the first time my grandmother said she thought my dad was dead. She died thinking he was dead but I could have made her proud with the final version of his heroism and his selfless act in wanting to help complete strangers. NamUs needs to be a household name and these tens of thousands of missing, unidentified, and even unclaimed individuals need to go home. Home can either be as a living breathing person or as a Doe who finally has a place to be buried or a home to be remembered. I'm very mad my father died because of a drunk man operating a bridge and by passing safety mechanisms but I'm so thankful he was putting others before himself and trying. Those are the stories that match up with so many of my family members.
My newest goal is to make NamUs become legislation that will ensure all missing persons are entered into their database and eventually get all John/Jane Does in Iowa where they belong. If only I could find an elected official who cared as much as I do.