Cold Case Solved: Rockford Woman Finds Some Closure After 36 Years
Sgt. William Miller
For the past 36 years, Bonnie Russell, Sgt. Miller's sister, has hoped that police would find her brother's murderer.
Vickie Babbitt (center) was arrested in September for the 1972 murder of her husband, Sgt. William Miller.
George Hayden, is the other suspect arrested for murdering Sgt. Miller.
By Samantha Ptashkin
ROCKFORD- A Rockford woman finds closure 36 years after her brother was murdered. Sgt. William Miller was shot at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 1972. Police just arrested two suspects this past September.
Sgt. Miller, often referred to as "Billy" went to train at Camp Lejeune when he was 25-years-old. There he met and married his second wife, Vickie Babbitt.
Bonnie Russell, Billy's sister, was the last in the family to see him, when she visited Billy at Camp Lejeune one year before his murder. That's when she met Babbitt."It did strike me that she was very distant, she seemed distant. She wasn't really friendly," Babbitt said.
About one year later on September 16, 1972, Billy was killed. Bonnie says she didn't get any answers from police, so she wrote a letter to President Ford begging for help.
She was told the investigators' theory was that Babbitt had a lover, a fellow marine named George Hayden, and together they murdered Billy. "So the story goes is that, Vickie had called Billy, saying she needed help, that her car had broken down. When Billy got there, they shot him," Bonnie said, "There's no doubt in my mind it was them."
But with no proof, police couldn't arrest anyone. Shortly after the murder, Hayden and Babbitt married. They soon divorced and eventually married other people and went on with their lives. "How do you live with doing something like that? I can't imagine someone living day to day, even if you're raising another family, who's done a horrendous crime like that," Bonnie said.
Then this past September, Bonnie's family found out police had arrested George Hayden and Vickie Babbitt for murder. Someone saw local news coverage of Billy's murder and came forward as a witness. "There's always hope and ya know, we never gave up," Bonnie said. "I loved my brother and there's not a day I don't think about him and pray for him."
Sgt. Miller left behind two daughters from his first marriage. He had one daughter, Wendy, with Babbitt. Wendy was only two-years-old when her father died. Bonnie says Wendy believes that her mother and Hayden killed her father.
George Hayden's family recently bailed him out of jail. Vickie Babbitt is still in jail. They've pleaded not guilty and are waiting for their trial.
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