Wisconsin man missing 9 months since attempted traffic stop found dead in abandoned home
Christopher Miller Jr., a Wisconsin man who was missing for nearly nine months, since he ran from a traffic stop into a frozen night, was found dead in a Rock County home Sunday, about 5 miles from where he was last seen.
Rock County Sheriff's investigators were notified by the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office the body found Sunday in an abandoned home is Miller, Capt. Mark Thompson confirmed.
His father Christopher Miller Sr. also confirmed that the body found was his son's, but said the cause of death was still under investigation.
"We were told that an anonymous tip came in Sunday about a body being found," Miller Sr. said. "They called us Monday morning to let us know my son was found in a home dead. The fight isn't over. We have been waiting for nine months for answers. We want to know the cause of death."
Mystery began after Nov. 19 traffic stop
Miller was traveling northbound on Interstate 90, heading to his girlfriend's home in Madison, Wisconsin on Nov. 19 when officers tried to stop his silver Mazda for going 94 mph on the interstate. After a pursuit that lasted less than 10 minutes, Miller's car came to a stop on the interstate and he ran into a cornfield in 14-degree weather before disappearing in a line of trees.
That was the last time anyone saw him.
Wisconsin State Police and Rock County police searched for 70 hours for Miller before calling it off. But Miller's family and community members continued to search for him every other weekend, renting kayaks and combing a nearby river, sometimes covering 15 miles in a day, but they found no clues to his whereabouts.
The immediate search for Miller was complex, in part because he was considered a suspect in a high-risk stop, police said.
The pursuing trooper and a Janesville, Wisconsin, police officer who had just arrived at the scene at 2:20 a.m. did not go after Miller because it was considered a high-risk stop and they could not tell whether anyone else was in the car. Instead, they searched the car and found his phone plus 61 grams of marijuana.
Wisconsin State Police follows DOJ standards on when someone leaves their vehicle and runs from the police.
As per the DOJ Law Enforcement Standards Bureau, the trooper in pursuit has the choice to either pursue a suspect or remain with the vehicle. Among the factors officers are trained to consider when conducting a foot pursuit are:
- If there is any chance that someone is still in the vehicle, maintain coverage of the vehicle.
- Never allow anyone to chase a suspect forward of the subject vehicle—the officer may be ambushed by someone still in the vehicle, and fellow officers cannot return fire without endangering the pursuing officer.
- If you have sufficient officers on scene, you may be able to release some of them to assist in setting up a perimeter and searching for suspects, but in general you should avoid foot pursuits. They are dangerous and difficult to coordinate.
Miller was father of 4
The Madison Police Department issued an alert requesting people to search for Miller since he was a resident of the city. But police said that they hadn't received any tips or information indicating his presence in the area and investigators closed the missing-persons case in February.
Miller was born in Chicago but his family moved to Rockford, Illinois when he was young. Miller played football during his high school years and had dreams of pursuing a professional career, his family said.
Miller became a father for the first time four years ago and had more recently been staying with his girlfriend and caring for their three children, his family said. His fourth child was born in May, six months after Miller was last seen alive.