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Crime News Cold Cases

How A Brooklyn Man’s 40-Year-Old Secret Double-Life Nearly Ruined His Family

Walter Miller, a convicted bank robber who escaped a North Carolina prison in 1977, had started a new life in New York, with a wife and children, when his past caught up to him decades later.

By Dorian Geiger
Bobby Cheryl Love Hony

On a winter morning in 2015, Cheryl Love was making tea in her kitchen when police swarmed her Brooklyn home in search of her husband.

Before police officers and FBI agents hauled her spouse Bobby Love out of the house, she learned an alarming truth. Bobby was actually Walter Miller, a small-time bank robber and escaped North Carolina prisoner who had been on the run since 1977.

“‘What’s your name?,’” she recalled police demanding of her husband.

When he replied, “‘Bobby Love,” the detectives pressed him.

“‘No. What’s your real name?’" Cheryl Love remembered. “And I heard him say something real low. And they responded: ‘You’ve had a long run.'”

The woman – who’d been married to the man for four decades – felt her life unravel, she told the acclaimed photographic blog Humans of New York, which intimately documented the married couple’s saga — and Love’s double life — in an 11-part photo essay. 

“My world came crashing down,” she told the blog. “Bobby’s arrest was all over the papers. It seemed like the whole city was laughing at me. People at church would pull me aside, and whisper: ‘You knew about this right? You had to know.’”

Bobby Love Hony 1

After 40 years of marriage, Cheryl was shellshocked. The pair had worked at a Brooklyn medical center and listened to Prince’s “Purple Rain” on their first date. But everything, up to her married name, was a lie. 

“How could I be so stupid?” she said. “I wanted to hide. I wanted to disappear.”

She re-examined subtle red flags, such as her husband's emotionally distant behavior and how her spouse seemed to go out of his way to avoid being photographed. 

Miller was serving a 30-year sentence for robbery when he escaped Raleigh’s now-shuttered Triangle Correctional Center by cracking open the rear exit of a prison transport bus, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. He allegedly spent $10 on a bus ticket and hit the open road for Manhattan. However, authorities later disputed the account of his prison break. 

“Our records don’t reflect that,” Keith Acree, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety told the Raleigh News & Observer.

Bobby Love Hony 2

After his Brooklyn arrest, Miller was extradited back to North Carolina where his sentence was later paroled. He was released in 2016, less than a year after the FBI stormed his home.

“I feel like a big burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” Miller, told the Daily News back then.

"I'm trying to put my life back together," he told the News & Observer.

The 69-year-old has since legally changed his name to Bobby Love — and has focused on rebuilding his marriage.

“The day after he was set free, I sat him down and asked: ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’” Cheryl Love told Humans of New York. “And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’"

Cheryl Love, who stood by her husband's side through the whole ordeal, in the end forgave the man who had disguised himself for so many years.

“I still have my resentments,” she confessed to Humans of New York. “I used to walk on eggshells. I used to just go along. But I told him one thing. I said: ‘Bobby, I’ll take you back. But I’m not taking a backseat to you no more.’” 

But she admitted, “I think this whole mess was for the better of things: better for me, better for the kids, and better for Bobby. 

The woman added there are no longer any secrets between the couple.

“He doesn’t have to hide anymore,” Cheryl said. 

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