Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2005

Miller children get fresh start

August 25, 2005


This time there were smiles and roses.

That was in stark contrast to the last time Melodie Miller was in a courtroom, watching her father be sentenced to life in prison for murdering her mother.

"When something like this happens, it's kind of hard to become normal again," Melodie said. "I'll go back and I'll live life. I won't forget what's happened, but you've got to move on."

And that's exactly what happened Tuesday afternoon during a closed hearing in a Douglas County Courtroom.

Convicted murderer Martin K. Miller signed away his parental rights, those at the hearing said, and longtime family friends, Joe and Ann Ozorkiewicz, became permanent legal guardians to 12-year-old Matthew and 15-year-old Melodie, the children of Martin and Mary Miller.

"The paperwork was signed, and now it is official," Ann Ozorkiewicz said. "It's permanent guardianship, it's irrevocable and it's wonderful."

The brief court hearing, which Martin Miller did not attend, was much different from earlier court proceedings.

From left, Phil Ozorkiewicz, 17, Brian Ozorkiewicz, 19, Kevin Ozorkiewicz, 21, Matt Miller, 12, Melodie Miller, 15, Joe Ozorkiewicz, Ann Ozorkiewicz and Katie Ozorkiewicz, 15, talk in the Ozorkiewicz kitchen Wednesday evening. Ann and Joe Ozorkiewicz became permanent legal guardians to Matt and Melodie Miller after a Tuesday closed hearing where convicted murderer Martin K. Miller signed away his parental rights. Joe and Ann Ozorkiewicz, longtime family friends of the Millers who have four children of their own, have known Matt and Melodie Miller since birth.

From left, Phil Ozorkiewicz, 17, Brian Ozorkiewicz, 19, Kevin Ozorkiewicz, 21, Matt Miller, 12, Melodie Miller, 15, Joe Ozorkiewicz, Ann Ozorkiewicz and Katie Ozorkiewicz, 15, talk in the Ozorkiewicz kitchen Wednesday evening. Ann and Joe Ozorkiewicz became permanent legal guardians to Matt and Melodie Miller after a Tuesday closed hearing where convicted murderer Martin K. Miller signed away his parental rights. Joe and Ann Ozorkiewicz, longtime family friends of the Millers who have four children of their own, have known Matt and Melodie Miller since birth.

Smiles replaced tears, several family members carried red roses and, after the hearing, they gathered for pictures of the "new" family.

"It's a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate," Melodie said. "I've known the whole (Ozorkiewicz) family since birth, so it's a comfortable situation already."

The Miller children spent a short time in foster care after the arrest of their father in late July of last year.

Martin Miller was later convicted of first-degree murder. A jury found him guilty of strangling his wife as she slept. Last month, he was sentenced to life in prison

Joe and Ann Ozorkiewicz, who have four children, said they never questioned taking in two more.

"Mary had no family. We tried to find relatives, and there aren't any, so the kids were on their own," Ann Ozorkiewicz said. "I really feel like God put us in the right place at the right time."

She said her family couldn't have made it through the past year without the support of the community. Members of two different churches helped feed and clothe the children. Some even pitched in to help with the laundry.

"The kids came with nothing basically," Ozorkiewicz said. "It's been very emotional and a little bit stressful, but they're great kids and they fit right in."

Both children are now back in school. Matthew is an eighth-grader at West Junior High. Melodie is beginning her sophomore year at Free State High School.

Both are trying to put the past behind them.

"You can't just sit around thinking about what's gone wrong for you and having a pity party," Melodie said. "The point is, there are a lot of people who are worse off than I am. I still have a brother and awesome people I'm living with."

"Everyone decided it would be less traumatic for the kids if they stayed in the community they were raised in," said Ocoee Miller, Martin Miller's mother, noting that the children's wishes were to live with the Ozorkiewiczes.

As far as her father is concerned, Melodie said she's considering visiting him in prison. Martin Miller is being held at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. His earliest possible release date is June 7, 2030. Melodie would be 40 years old then.

"Probably sometime in the next year, I'll go visit him," she said. "I have a couple of matters to take up with him, and I want to ask him a few questions."

Timeline of events in the Martin K. Miller murder case

July 28, 2004 Mary E. Miller, a Kansas University librarian, is found dead in her bed. Three days later, Martin K. Miller, a carpenter, is arrested on suspicion of killing his wife.

Aug. 2, 2004 Prosecutors formally charge Martin K. Miller with murder.

Aug. 10, 2004 Miller pens a tribute to his late wife in a letter that was read at Victory Bible Church.

Sept. 2, 2004 A coroner rules asphyxia - lack of oxygen often caused by suffocation - killed Mary Miller.

March 9 Prosecutors allege during the preliminary hearing that Martin Miller strangled his wife so he could pursue relationships with other women.

June 20 After six hours of deliberation, the jury convicts Miller of first-degree murder.

July 20 Judge Paula Martin sentences Miller to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Wednesday Miller signs away his parental rights, and family friends Joe and Ann Ozorkiewicz become guardians to 12-year-old Matthew and 15-year-old Melodie Miller.


OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago

An open letter to the anti-faith, anti-Christ contingent of Lawrence:

Do you see how faith has value? These children have suffered something incredibly traumatic, something that would send most kids into a downward spiral, yet they live strong and victoriously through their faith. When you moral and religious liberals laugh at our faith, you do so out of ignorance. Faith in Christ and the love of God that is expressed by the life and death of Jesus is what keeps these girls happy. Not just "surviving" (which would be difficult to do), but actually moving forward with their lives! This is the power of faith in God. How people can be so dismissive when witnessing such a powerful living is something I cannot understand. I've seen how the God-less live. I was one of them. It's empty. True freedom is not found in self-indulgence (as Martin Miller showed us), but in faithful obedience to God (as his children have shown us).

meggers 12 years, 10 months ago seems that I remember reading that the motive for Miller killing his wife was that he feared losing standing within his church if he were to seek a divorce.

I'm not denying that some people can truly benefit from embracing theology, but all too often, we see also see people who have been horribly corrupted by religion.

I'm glad that the Miller children are doing well, but I think it's presumptuous for you to say that this is solely due to their faith in God. Melody Miller, as quoted in the article, said "I'll go back and I'll live life. I won't forget what's happened, but you've got to move on." That seems like a pretty sensible approach to me and one that many people would have, regardless of their faith (or lack of faith) in God.

cowboy 12 years, 10 months ago

Bless these kids , and the family that took them in !

jewelsjournalist 12 years, 10 months ago

Dear Matthew & Melodie, Shane, Lauren & myself (their mom)are soooo relieved and grateful you're able to stay with Joe & Ann! You've both been incredibly courageous throughout this past year. Please know we care deeply about you.

Dear Joe & Ann, Although I've said this to you before, I want to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge what extraordinary people you are. Thank you for being such a source of faith & inspiration!

Our family celebrates yours this day. May the entire community of Lawrence unite in wishing you well and in contributing toward the greatest possible safety, security, stability and healing.

With Warmth & Respect, Jeanette Kekahbah

Linda Aikins 12 years, 10 months ago

Wendt and Meggers: Good points and good questions. I don't see answers flying in here.

"When you moral and religious liberals laugh at our faith, you do so out of ignorance" HUH????

Three letters: BKT

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, Wendt: it didn't work. I'm not one bit ashamed or regretful of what I wrote.

Who says Martin Miller isn't anti-Christ? He used religion as a subterfuge for facilitating an adulterous relationship. He IS part of the anti-religious, anti-Christ contingent because by his hypocritical choices the "name of Christ is maligned" (as scripture puts it). Just because he and all those televaganelists you listed have found ways to profit in the name of Christ doesn't mean that they are on the same team that I'm talking about. You go too far with your generalities. You don't like Pat Robertson? You shouldn't like him; and I don't like him either!

If you had a cure for cancer, would you post that information on this site? I have a cure for the cancer of sin, shame and isolation that's killing our culture: it is God. I'm not going to be ashamed of that, or consider it inappropriate to brag about it. I'm not riding the back of a tragedy for personal gain, I'm shedding light on something that all of Lawrence needs to know: God does his BEST WORK when we are in our DARKEST moments. This is what has been demonstrated in the lives of these survivors, that God brought them through something horrible.

You must have been off your meds when you thought that I would recoil in shame when I read your rebuke. I laughed with gusto at your empty attack. You are an exact example of what I meant when I wrote that I cannot understand "how people can be so dismissive when witnessing such a powerful living".

Can you deny that this is powerful? When you were that age, could you have survived such a thing? She heard her dad kill her mother in the other room; yet still she has joy in her life. Give credit where credit is due. These children have been dealt some bad cards, yet they live rich lives in God.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago

Meggers makes a good point. There may be some who could somehow survive this without "help". But if you see what the story says to us, it points out how much church involvement has blessed these kids. I'm not saying that religion is the answer. There are many religious addicts who abuse "faith" in order to satisfy their own pride (such as BTK and Martin Miller). I'm talking about the effect that a RELATIONSHIP with God has on a person's life.

For those of you who want to use examples of badly behaving religious people for the purpose of refuting me: I'm NOT saying that all you have to do is join the throngs people who file into a church building at 10:30 every Sunday and all will be rosy. I'm actually somewhat disturbed by much of what we see happening in our churches today because much of what is happening in our churches is as God-less as the stuff we see among the un-churched. I'm saying that God is a father who takes care of his children, and that THAT is what is being demonstrated in the lives of these kids who's "earthly father" killed their mother.

Linda Aikins 12 years, 10 months ago

ditto kpippen post.

I so much wish those children well. I can't help but think they are just in shock, as they should be.

J Good Good 12 years, 10 months ago

Yes their Christian faith has helped them immensely.

But faith is not one size fits all and faith in a power larger than yourself, whether it be Buddha, Allah, or The Mother Goddess can and does do the same every day for people in painful circumstances. I know you won't believe that 'cause you know you're right, cause your God said so.....

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago

Wendt: if I really, really have a CURE, then should I be interested in something other than to tell MY story? Again, I fail to see HOW what you have written (both of your posts) is supposed to make me change my perspective. YES, I DO want to tell my story!! I'm just not seeing how I'm supposed to run away just because you caught me wanting to tell a really great story.

By the way, scripture says that "all have sinned and fallen short". That includes me. I'm not condemning anyone as much as I'm saying that society as a whole is lost and wandering due to our isolation from our Creator. You seem to think that my goal is to bring people down by telling them they are all stupid and evil. My goal it to point others in a positive direction (up), a direction that has blessed me in ways that my sinful choices could never have blessed me.

coldandhot 12 years, 10 months ago

God Bless the family that is caring for these children. Many kudos for your sacrifice.

That is an example of what Jesus would do. He took in the widows and orphans.

meggers 12 years, 10 months ago

Just as a bit of a side note, when I opened the paper this morning and saw this article, along with the photos of the Miller children, my first thought was that there would probably be a public outcry over the publication of the photos. That hasn't happened here, so maybe it won't.

It probably helps that the kids now appear to be happy and well-adjusted, in contrast to how they might have appeared shortly after the murder or during their father's trial. Plus, their new guardians probably signed a release in order to allow the photo to be published. I just remember the LJW lawsuit and hearing a lot of outrage expressed that the newspaper would even consider publishing photos of the children.

Anyway, the best of luck to the kids and their new parents and siblings. They all sound like strong and caring people.

Daniel Speicher 12 years, 10 months ago

I didn't really read all of the comments... But, the general gist of what I've read is that those who are not Christians have questions about Christians still sinning.

The only thing I can really say is that Christians are still human. They still have human desires, human wants and human sins. With Christ we have the power to overcome those sins, but, at the same time, we are still human.

It is a paradox to say the least. We, who have been justified by faith, are still in the process of being sanctified by it. Some would argue that the moment you are saved you are made completely holy by the world's standards. I make the contention that when we are saved our sins (past and future) are washed clean in Christ's eyes. However, can a person fall away? I think so. Although, that is a whole different discussion.

Moreover, what are the eternal consequences for a human crime such as murder? My contention is that murder, in God's eyes, is sin. Just as lying, cheating and stealing are all sins. Paul (then Saul), the writer of the majority of the New Testament, was forgiven by Christ on the road to Damascus and then, later, by the disciples of whom many of their friends he murdered. Christ came for the sick. Saul was sick. Martin Miller was sick. I would argue we all are sick with the same illness. We all are sinners.

I know this angers many of you. And, to be honest, I understand. How can God equalize murder with lying? And, I guess my defense would be this... God loves all of us. He wants all of us to live out the purpose that each one of us is given. The only thing that separates us (either by murder or lying) is sin. The only way to restore that relationship is to ask Christ to be our Savior from the very thing that separates us from God, to be our Mediator.

Plain and simple... God loves you and God loves Martin Miller. If I didn't believe a human soul could be redeemed, I would have never prayed the prayer I prayed many years ago asking for that redemption.

--Danny Speicher

usaschools 12 years, 10 months ago

I think JG makes an excellent point - people have a wide range of beliefs. Faith certainly has helped many people who were not Christians. The first post on this topic just went a little too far in bashing others. It would have been stronger and the message heard more clearly by more people had the author left out the bit about it being an "open letter to the anti-christian anti-faith contingent" (or something like that). As for me, I am very happy to see that these children have a loving home. I am surprised at how quickly they have been able to move on. Children are certainly resilient! I'm glad there are people in the world who will step up and take action to care for their friends' children when they are not there to do so. Given their religious background, I have no doubt that these children have found comfort and strength in their own particular faith. Good for them!

exlawrencian 12 years, 10 months ago

I moved away from Lawrence many years ago, but I know so many people who knew the Millers (though I never met them myself.)

I shed tears as I read this article... I don't know if they were tears of sadness for what these kids have been through or tears of joy for the happy ending. The Ozorkiewicz rule!!!

This whole story has been a cautionary tale for me. I myself struggle with pornography. I want to stop, but so often I give in to the temptation. Praise God it has never gotten beyond "only" pornography -- I've not had an affair, I've not "acted out" in any other way -- but sin is sin and while the consequences of "just" pornography are not as bad as what Martin Miller did, it's still bad and it still breaks fellowship with God.

I think a major reason why I've never gotten worse than "just" pornorgaphy is because I have good Christian men who keep me accountable, with whom I pray and confess to, who check up on me.

So if you struggle with pornography or other of these "secret" sins, DON'T KEEP THEM SECRET! Find some trusted people to come alongside you, confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that you may be healed (James 5:16).

Remember that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) and if you conceal your sins, you will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13).

Christine Anderson 12 years, 10 months ago

OldEnuff: Thank You! Wendt, your level of ignorance astounds me. I attend the same church as the Miller children. Mary was my friend. Those of us who didn't merely pontificate on this site, or read about it elsewhere, know that it's God and God alone who got not only these precious kids thru this, but our entire Body. Did Christ inspire Marty to choke Mary in her sleep? How much hatred is there in your heart, Wendt? I can tell you what inspired that PIG Marty to do what he did. Lust, greed, selfishness, adultery, idolatery, etc.etc. Those, my ignorant friend, are the works of Satan, not Jesus Christ. Any man or woman on the face of this planet has the choice to obey Jesus or not. Any of us can turn our backs on Him and walk away any time we choose. A worthless fool like Marty MAY have never been a genuine believer to begin with. I remind you that Lucifer was once an archangel, and was thrown out of Heaven for putting himself above God. The devil thought he could do it better than God. And so, he was cast down into Hell. Do you see my point? Lucifer was at one point in time the head angel of the angels. He made a choice to place himself above God Almighty. Marty did the same thing, except that it got him a lifetime ticket into prison. Only Jesus Himself is qualified to determine if he should go to Hell as well as prison.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago


You make a good point about my first post. If you have read many of the posts on this site over the past year that deal with faith, you may see where my "fire" comes from. There are many, many in Lawrence who are vehemently anti-God. My post started on the offensive because I knew that a post about faith would be met with ridicule. And, it was.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago


Thank you for your courage. If Martin Miller had chosen to be as transparent as you, he might have made different choices. I've made a number of posts on this site about the dangers of porn, but most of the responses I've gotten reflect either a poor understanding of the destructiveness of porn, or some other 'rationalization' of it. I have also struggled greatly with porn, but God has brought me great healing, and I've been free of it for over six months. I nearly committed suicide over the guilt and shame. Thanks for your courageous post!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 10 months ago

One more post before I go to bed (is that TMI?).

I pray that God blesses the "new" Ozorkiewicz family. I pray that the healing brought by their faith brings much joy to them all and that they are a light on a hill for all who meet them. May we all learn from the example they have set.

AAAAAND... Thank you LJW for bringing this message to us all. I was kind of mad about the Flying Spaghetti Monster thing. This makes up for it. :)

Romans832 12 years, 10 months ago

Melodie and Matthew have had to grow up much too soon--just like anyone whose parent dies, at a time when the children are still so desparately in need of two parents. (I've just finished reading the story of Gracia and Martin Burnham.) I pray for them and for all children in similar circumstances, that God would bring healing to their hearts and that they would find great comfort in the fact that He is holding their lives in His hands.

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