Officer's Gradmother, Aunt Found Murdered in Home

By Anthony Ponce and Zach Christman
|  Sunday, Nov 1, 2009  |  Updated 5:35 PM CDT
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Cop's Grandmother, Aunt Found Slain

Lillian and Donessa Miller were found inside the home they shared on Tyler Street.

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Cop's Grandmother, Aunt Found Slain

"Whatever happened, it wasn't brought on by Lillian. That much I can tell you."
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Just before 9 p.m. Friday, neighbors in the 700 block of Tyler Street heard screams.

A woman was standing on the front lawn of a two-story brick home with well-trimmed hedges, crying. It was the home where 79-year-old Lillian Miller had lived for nearly 40 years.

"She come out screaming. She said, "My grandmother and my mother, they in the tub. They dead," neighbor Jackie Murphy remembers.

Neighbors called police. Inside the house, they found Miller dead and her 52-year-old daughter, Donessa, clinging to life. They rushed Donessa to a hospital, where she died just after 9:30 p.m.

"I'm still sort of shaken, like it's hard to believe. Why would someone do something to them?" neighbor Jimmy Marks wondered.

The people who live on Tyler Street said the Murphys were good people who didn't have any family problems they knew of. But it seems someone had a grudge against them. Just in the last two weeks, someone set fire to the family's garage, they said. And their car tires had recently been slashed.

Gary police do not believe this was a random act of violence.

"Whatever happened, it wasn't brought on by Lillian. That much I can tell you," said Troy Montgomery, the pastor of Lillian and Donessa's church.

The Lake County coroner said both women were killed by compressive asphyxia; they likely were strangled. Officials also said the women were related to a Gary police officer. Lillian was the grandmother of Officer Damon Bradshaw, and Donessa was his aunt. And on Sunday, police were questioning a person of interest in the murders. So far, no charges have been filed.

But for Jackie Murphy, who's known the family for decades, it's hard to think about why this happened.

"She was a beautiful person. She didn't bother nobody," Murphy said.

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