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Crime News Snapped

Woman Seduces Ex-Cop Through AOL Chat Rooms and Cons Him Into Murdering Her Husband

Sharee Miller's murder trial captivated the country after her former lover turned on her.

By Grace Jidoun

Can a murder case rewrite how a courtroom decides who is innocent and guilty?  In Snapped's explosive 20th anniversary special about the infamous Sharee Miller case, the prosecutors and investigators argue it can.

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The murder of Sharee’s husband, Bruce Miller, by former Kansas City police lieutenant Jerry Cassaday shocked the city of Flint, Michigan — and eventually the country as Sharee’s trial played out publicly on television in 2000. The trial ultimately prompted a sea change in how people viewed the internet and what evidence could be admissible in court. 

What happened to Bruce Miller?

In late 1998, Bruce Miller was a “quiet” two-time divorcée looking forward to retirement. The NASCAR fan had opened a salvage yard in Flint, Michigan, and one of his first hires was a “vivacious and charming” 26-year-old bookkeeper named Sharee, who had a side hustle as a Mary Kay Cosmetics salesperson. The 20-year-age gap and boss-employee relationship did not stop them from dating, and by April 1999, the two were married, both bringing kids from previous marriages into the relationship.

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Just seven months later, in November 1999, Bruce’s brother and sister-in-law would find him fatally shot in the chest, lying in a pool of his own blood behind the counter at his salvage yard.

Sharee Miller's online affairs

A few months into their marriage, Sharee had met a man named Jerry Cassaday in an AOL chat room.

Cassaday was still reeling from the demise of his career and marriage when they struck up a friendship online. He had been a lieutenant in the Kansas City police force in charge of homicides with a wife and kid, but “then life kind of hit him. He fell at work and at that point got addicted to prescription medication,” remarked retired Sherriff’s Detective Lieutenant Kevin Shanlian on Snapped. After clashing with a powerful sheriff and losing his job, Cassaday spiraled downward and eventually relocated to Reno, Nevada, to work at a casino.

By the time Sharee met him, “he was ripe for the picking,” said his co-worker Carol Slaughter.

Sharee Miller featured on Snapped episode 3317

Their “instant messages” — similar to texts today — quickly turned steamy, and Sharee sent him nude photos and racy messages. Her screen names included “just hot to see you,” “horney7249,” “iwanttobelaid,” “lovemeslowly,” and “sexykitten4onlyu.”

Cassaday would often sign off: “your fool for life, big daddy.”

Their relationship went from “virtual” to real life after Sharee visited Cassaday in Reno under the pretense of a Mary Kay Cosmetics business trip, where, according to Cassaday’s friends, she talked about a future and went house-shopping with him.

“They were like teenagers playing, building this relationship, having a ball,” said Jim Kiertzner, a former reporter for local station, WNEM-TV.

“It was crazy that a person 800 miles away had been talked into coming up here, committing a murder, going back, and leaving no evidence,” added Shanlian. “How did she get him to commit this murder?” 

Cassaday was indeed a “fool” for Sharee, as he believed her elaborate lies. She claimed her husband was abusive and sent him photos of bruises that detectives on Snapped speculate were painted on with cosmetics. She also claimed to be pregnant with Cassaday’s child, showing him sonograms that were five and six years old from her previous children. And he fell for the biggest lie of all: that she had suffered a “miscarriage” after Bruce kicked her in the stomach.

“That was part of her game playing on Jerry’s emotions, to get him to do what she needed and wanted him to do,” said Kiertzner.

How was Sharee Miler caught?

When police first discovered Bruce Miller’s body, there were very few clues to the elaborate plot.

“Just on the face, it had all the earmarks of an armed robbery,” said Shanlian on Snapped. Bruce was known to carry $2,000 in his shirt pocket to buy various car parts. 

“Money was missing, his wallet was missing,” he said.

When police spoke with Sharee, she pointed the finger at a former co-worker, John Hutchinson. She had an affair with Hutchison before marrying Miller, and she claimed there was still “bad blood” between the two men.

“She also said John borrowed two grand from Bruce and was slow to repay. Also, there had been some thefts and a VIN-switching investigation at the auto yard, and John was the police’s primary suspect. [Our] theory was that maybe Bruce was about to call the police and turn him in,” remembered Michael Compeau, retired Genesee County Police Captain.

Sharee had an alibi for the murder, and Hutchison had failed a polygraph test. The police felt that the case was nearly solved — until a surprise fell into their laps.

In February 2000, the police received a call from a Missouri attorney saying he might have some evidence. Cassaday had died from suicide by gunshot wound to the head and left a note telling his attorney to go to the police with a briefcase full of damning information, including printouts of the racy messages and a computer hard drive. Investigators also found directions to the Flint salvage yard and specific instructions from Sharee, including: “Just do it and get the hell out of there.”

Prosecutor Marcie Mabry told Snapped, “There were three letters with the briefcase: one to his biological son, one to his ex-wife, and one was to his mother and father. The one to his mother and father detailed why he was doing what he was doing.”

Investigators believed there was now enough evidence to convict Sharee.

“As a former investigator himself, he had everything laid out perfectly. That briefcase was a treasure trove of information,” said Kiertzner.

When authorities searched the house where Cassaday died by suicide, they also found two incriminating VHS tapes in the garbage, one labeled “For Jerry’s Eye’s Only,” that provided more proof of a sexual connection between the two.

Sharee Miller is arrested

In the audio played on Snapped, you can hear Sharee’s hubris as she denied any involvement with Cassaday. However, as the police presented her with evidence, one piece at a time, she began to backtrack and eventually admited to a relationship with Cassaday. She claimed he was obsessed with her, and the tape was blackmail. She also said the chat had been hacked, and the sentences had been changed — a story she would stick to through the trial. 

After her husband’s death, Sharee had dropped Cassaday “like a hot potato” and was living with a new boyfriend, which may have prompted him to fill the briefcase with evidence before his suicide.

“I think she would have gotten away with it if she had not dumped her boyfriend a month later,” said Ives Potrafka, a Sheriff’s Sergeant who worked the case.

The first “Internet Murder” trial

Sharee Miller’s trial began airing nationwide on Court TV in December 2000 and captivated the public as the first “internet murder” case. But with the confessed gunman dead, it was a circumstantial case that hinged on technology unfamiliar to people in the courtroom. Even the prosecutor, Marcie Mabry, admitted to Snapped that before this case, she had never been on a computer.

With Sharee contending that the chat had been hacked, Mabry had her work cut out for her. “Months and months of daily emails” had to be cross-referenced and fact-checked, and the prosecution even brought in an AOL rep to help.

Investigators thought they had a motive: Sharee was set to receive a sizable Social Security sum and a life insurance payout upon her husband’s death. But the only thing connecting Sharee to the murder in the eyes of the court was the internet, and things looked shaky.

But when Sharee took the stand against her lawyer’s advice, everything fell apart. According to prosecutors, when she replied "yes" to the question, “Are all the exhibits true?” her fate was changed forever.

Jury foreman Michael Thorp reflected on that pivotal moment to Snapped, saying, “Once again, that suggests her hubris. She thought she could get anyone to believe her. She thought she was going to sell that whole jury on her little innocent act.”

On December 22, 2000, Sharee was convicted of 2nd-degree murder and conspiracy to commit 1st-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Sharee Miller featured on Snapped in 2005

Four years after the trial, Sharee’s story aired on Snapped in 2005, and it drew the attention of a fan of the show, who then pursued a relationship with her. Snapped caught up with Michael Denoyer for the anniversary special, and he spoke about Sharee's pull on him after watching the show.

“I watched a lot of Snapped, and Sharee Miller came on. It was something in her eyes or voice. I thought she was innocent. She looked lonely and sad,” he said,

Denoyer struck up a pen-pal correspondence with Miller in prison, and a romance quickly developed. The two became engaged, but Denoyer claimed on Snapped that she was up to her same old tricks.

In July 2009, Sharee’s conviction was appealed on grounds that evidence from Cassaday and his suicide should not have been admitted at trial and was prejudicial to the jury. There was another ruling that she should get a new trial — and as soon as she was released, she dumped Denoyer, just as she allegedly dumped Cassaday.

“Bells went off in my head… I was wrong. Everything was about money and sex, and I wasn’t smart enough to pick up on it,” Denoyer said, adding that he eventually burned all of their letters.

Ultimately, prosecutors appealed the judge’s decision to order a new trial, and she was sent back to prison with her original sentence reinstated.

She finally admitted in a “jaw-dropping” letter to the judge that she wanted Cassaday to murder her husband. The motive? Local reporter Kiertzner told Snapped she feared he would find out about her affair and divorce her, leaving her “high and dry” with no money.

Sharee Miller is now serving out her sentence at the Huron Valley Women’s Prison in Michigan.

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