OWENS CROSSROADS, Ala. – Last October an investigation was launched into the death of an FBI photographer who lived in Owens Crossroads. Kathleen Miller was found dead in two feet of water during a trip with her husband, Greg Miller.
They were visiting the remote Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
The husband quickly became a person of interest for investigators. But it’s been a year since authorities began looking into Kathleen’s death, no arrests have been made, and members of her family have plenty of still-unanswered questions.
They say time heals all wounds, but for Kathleen Miller’s family, a year isn’t nearly enough to recover from their loss.
“Sorry, I didn’t think this was going to happen,” said Kathleen’s cousin, Peg Sharp as she wiped away a tear.
“I’m OK until it comes up again and then I don’t sleep,” explained Kathleen’s sister, Vaughn Grace.
Sleepless nights and the lingering questions. What happened to Kathleen? What does her husband know?
“As I told him, she died on his watch and they were alone, and it doesn’t make sense that she drowned in two feet of water,” Grace stated.
Last fall, Kathleen Miller, an accomplished photographer, and her husband, Greg, decided to take a trip to beautiful, isolated, Nantahala National Forest in Graham County, North Carolina.
On October 7th, a driver called 911. He said Greg Miller flagged him down on a remote road in the forest saying his wife had fallen in the creek and he could not get her out.
Kathleen Miller, a lifelong swimmer, had apparently drowned in a creek only 22 inches deep. At first, Kathleen’s death was treated as an accident.
“I didn’t receive the call until after she was already at the funeral home and by then he had made some statements, and some comments, and some things that came up that started making what was originally thought of as an accidental drowning started to become suspicious,” said Graham County Sheriff Jerry Crisp.
Sheriff Crisp says Greg Miller couldn’t get his story straight.
“He just gave two or three different versions of as to how she had drowned,” the Sheriff said.
“They differed in some significant ways. So, I can understand someone saying we had popcorn for dinner and then coming back and saying we had well we had snacks for dinner. I wouldn’t consider that significant. But saying we were swimming, and saying we were floating, and saying we were hiking, those are not the same thing,” Grace said.
Kathleen Miller’s family says the story doesn’t add up, no matter which version they hear.
“This is just so surreal… This just doesn’t happen to people. It’s like something that happens on TV. It just doesn’t happen,” Sharp said.
“It’s inconceivable to me that she could have drowned without being incapacitated,” Grace stated.
News 19 has done some digging into Greg Miller. Court records show in 1999, he pleaded guilty to a grand larceny charge in Ontario County, New York. The judge issued a protection order in that case after prosecutors told the court Greg intimidated a female witness.
News 19 aired a story about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Kathleen Miller’s death in November of 2019. After that, Sheriff Crisp says Greg Miller went to the FBI to talk.
“The case, for lack of a better word, kind of took off,” Sheriff Crisp said.
The Sheriff says Greg Miller gave several statements over the period of weekend. But no charges were filed. Kathleen Miller’s case was taken over by an FBI agent in North Carolina.
“And I shared everything we had up to that point in the investigation with the FBI and in turn they were going to share everything they had gathered with me, but that has yet to happen,” he explained.
The Graham County Sheriff says he feels left in the dark.
“I haven’t received copies of anything yet, so I really don’t know where the investigation is at,” he stated.
Last year the Department of Justice released a statement about the death of Kathleen Miller, an FBI employee, saying in part, “A loss to the DOJ family is always a shock and felt by us all.”
Earlier this month News 19 asked the FBI investigators in North Carolina about the status of the investigation.
A spokesperson for the agency told News 19 quote, “Per Department of Justice policy, we cannot release information about ongoing investigations.”
“I think he thinks in his mind he thinks he’s off the hook,” Sheriff Crisp said.
But the Graham County Sheriff hasn’t forgotten about Greg Miller.
“There is a lot of information that leads us to believe that he was involved in her death,” Sheriff Crisp said.
Friends and family say Kathleen and Greg’s marriage wasn’t simple. Her sister suggested of the 10 years they were married, collectively they lived together for about two of them. The couple owned a home in Owens Crossroads, but neighbors say Greg wasn’t around much. Now it sits empty.
“Well, I know he’s not living in the house. He comes back every once in a while, and picks stuff up,” Vaughn says.
Neighbors say Greg stops by the house every couple months, normally staying for just a few minutes. A red tag on the meter shows electricity has been cut off to the house.
While the investigation is taking longer than the family wants, they don’t want law enforcement to rush and they haven’t lost hope.
“I think that the one big mistake that Greg made was thinking that this was going to happen in some out of the way setting and he was going to get Barney Fife looking into it if anybody at all. Sheriff Crisp certainly no Barney Fife,” Grace said.
And Crisp has a message for Kathleen Miller’s family.
“As long as I am with this agency, I will not close this case. This case will remain open and we will continue to look for the truth and the answers,” the Sheriff said. “I’m still waiting for justice to be served in this case.”
New 19 has sent a FOIA request to the FBI, asking for the autopsy and other related documents, documents Sheriff Crisp says he hasn’t been given. What happened to Kathleen Miller? We’re working to find out.