Parents hope new evidence will answer questions about son's death
The parents of a Cape Breton teen who died under suspicious circumstances 24 years ago say they have new medical evidence that may lead to some answers in his death.
“The more that’s coming out now, the more it’s only saying what we’ve suspected all along, that Clayton died from a violent act,” says the victim’s mother, Maureen Miller.
Clayton Miller was found face down in a brook two days after police raided a party in the woods in New Waterford, N.S. in 1990. He was 17 at the time of his death.
An autopsy conducted shortly after his death concluded he died from dry drowning, but a second autopsy concluded three years later determined the cause of death to be hypothermia.
But his parents have always been suspicious of the autopsy results and feel police may have played a role in their son’s death.
Now, Kate Dwyer, a Nova Scotia nurse with a background in pathology, has conducted a new, independent examination of Clayton Miller’s autopsy findings, including photos of his bruised and battered body.
“She’s put the film, the pictures from back in 1990, under an ultraviolet light and what that has demonstrated is that there appears to be a gash over his left ear and in the back of his head,” says the family’s lawyer, Ray Wagner.
The six-to-eight inch gash was not noted in the original autopsy, but when Miller’s body was examined a second time, it was noted three of his front teeth were missing, as was his brain.
The Millers say they were told his teeth likely fell out during decomposition, but they were not found in his coffin.
“They should have been there to be found,” says the victim’s father, Gervase Miller. “We believe the teeth were missing when he was buried.”
The second autopsy also noted that both of Miller’s elbows had been dislocated.
“If somebody fell, you could see one arm being subluxed, but how is it there are two, on both sides?” asks Wagner.
In another twist, after waiting for years to obtain police documents on their son’s death through Access to Information, the Millers were recently told the files dating back to the 1990s had been destroyed.
However, now they are being told the documents are safe after all, at RCMP information headquarters in Ottawa.
“We have the information commissioner saying the documents have been destroyed and we have the RCMP saying the documents have not been destroyed,” says Wagner. “Well, we’re not here to believe one or the other.”
Despite their frustrations, the Millers say they are glad there is renewed interest in their son’s case.
“We believe that with all of this happening, we will eventually get to the bottom of it,” says Gervase.
The Millers say they will continue collecting information and plan to take the case to court.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald