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EquuSearch Founder Awarded $24 Million In Teen Daughter’s 1984 Abduction, Murder

Tim Miller filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2014 against Clyde Edwin Hedrick, the man he believes murdered his 16-year-old daughter Laura Miller in 1986.

By Jax Miller
A portrait of Laura Miller's Father Tim Miller

The man who founded Texas EquuSearch has just won a wrongful death lawsuit against the man he believes killed his daughter.

Tim Miller was granted more than $24 million in liability and damages on Monday in a 2014 wrongful death suit he brought against Clyde Edwin Hedrick, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com. Judge Lonnie Cox for the 56th District Court granted the motion on default when Hedrick failed to appear, despite notice of the hearing.

In total, Miller was awarded $24,365,471.23 plus court costs and annual interest.

Although Hedrick was found civilly liable for 16-year-old Laura Miller’s death, he has never been criminally charged with her murder, according to NBC Houston affiliate KPRC.

“I filed the wrongful death suit to let Clyde Hedrick know that, ‘Clyde, I’m still here, I am still here, and I’m not going to quit until the day I die,’” Miller said after the hearing. “I want to let Clyde know that, ‘I know what you did to my daughter, and I’m not going to let you rest until we have you where you need to be for the rest of your life.’”

Miller’s daughter disappeared in 1984 after she left her family’s League City, Texas, residence to use a pay phone at a local store, according to the FBI. Her body was discovered in a League City field 17 months later, not far from where the body of missing bartender Heidi Fye was also found after her 1983 disappearance.

As authorities scoured the area for Miller, a third body was discovered. Then a fourth was found in 1991, though it would take more than two decades to finally identify the latter victims as Audrey Lee Cook and Donna Gonsoulin Prudhomme, respectively.

The area where the killer or killers disposed of the victims — a 25-acre stretch near Calder Road about 25 miles southeast of Houston and 25 miles northwest of Galveston — became colloquially known as the “Texas Killing Fields,” or simply the “Killing Fields.”

A memorial site for Laura Miller

In 2000, Laura Miller’s father formed EquuSearch, a non-profit organization that continues searching for missing people worldwide after official efforts fail or end. According to the website, their volunteers have worked in more than 2,200 cases, with searches leading to the discovery of 326 bodies and 428 living people.

“Many great and meaningful things have been born from adversity,” the website states. “In some cases, the response and resiliency to that adversity has resulted in monumental benefits to humanity.”

Notable EquuSearch cases include the high-profile searches for Natalee Holloway and Caylee Anthony, the daughter of Casey Anthony.

As for Clyde Hedrick, he was never charged with any of the four “Killing Fields” murders.

He was, however, convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2014 for the homicide of Ellen Rae Simpson Beason, according to ABC Houston affiliate KTRK-TV — the same year Miller filed his wrongful death lawsuit. Beason’s body was found underneath garbage on a dirt road in Galveston County in July 1984, though her cause of death was listed as “undetermined” at the time.

That was changed years later following an exhumation and forensic examination of Beason’s body, which revealed that she died from a blow to the head, according to KPRC.

Hedrick served eight years of a 20-year sentence before he was released on good behavior and placed in a Houston halfway house, a decision that upset Miller, according to the ABC affiliate.

“Clyde Hedrick is considered a threat to public safety, and we are asking everyone to be on the lookout if anyone sees him out of the halfway house,” Miller said at the time.

Miller remains tight-lipped about why he thinks Hedrick murdered his daughter, per KPRC.

“As time goes by and the more information I get, and the more information I am continuing to get, I have no doubt in my mind Clyde Hedrick is responsible for Laura’s murder,” Miller said following this week’s judgment. “A lot of the evidence we brought forward, we don't want to talk about now because we don’t want to interfere in the investigation.”

Miller told KPRC reporters that he spent $6,000 cleaning Hedrick’s San Leon home when Hedrick moved out upon foreclosure, obtaining some of Hedrick’s personal belongings.

It remains unclear if any of these personal belongings indicated to Miller that Hedrick had something to do with Laura Miller’s murder.

“We continue to work with multiple law enforcement agencies to identify and charge the person responsible for murdering Laura Miller in 1984,” said Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady. “Clyde Hedrick has not been ruled out as a suspect in these investigations.”

Texas EquuSearch also released a statement on their Facebook page following Miller’s recent victory.

“A long-awaited day for a father who has worked every single day for the last 38 years seeking some sort of justice in the death of his daughter, Laura Lynn Miller,” they wrote. “We have more work to do, but we will be grateful for each and every victory.”

The FBI continues to investigate the “Killing Fields” cases, but has not come to a definitive conclusion about to whether the murders were the work of one or multiple killers.

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