MISSOULA - A Missoula man says he's not guilty in the death of his mother found dead over the weekend in a South Avenue home.
Miles Otis Miller, 21, pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and tampering with physical evidence Tuesday in Missoula District Court. The judge set his bond at $2 million.
In charging documents, the defendant called 911 Saturday afternoon reporting his mother, Taeko (Teri) Miller,68, was unconscious and covered in blood laying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs in their basement and not breathing.
Missoula firefighters arrived first on the scene. They told police the woman was deceased and to call a coroner. A Missoula police officer observed a large amount of blood surrounding the woman's body.
The officer also saw a bucket near the body with white vinegar cleaning supplies in it and an unused mop next to it.
The defendant told police he had just woken up from a nap and that he was sleeping all morning. Miller said he sleeps with headphones and a fan and is hard of hearing. He said he last saw his mother at approximately 7 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2023.
During questioning, police noticed he had scratches on his hands and they were slightly red and swollen. Miller told police he had a skin condition and his hands would crack and bleed. When a detective arrived he observed the blood spatter around the victim and believed it was caused by some forceful action.
Miller was taken to the Missoula Police Department for a further interview where he said he saw his mother the night before and stayed at the home overnight, waking up at about 8 a.m., then going back to sleep until about noon. He said he found his mother shortly after.
The detective told Miller the death was now being investigated as a homicide. Miller said he didn't want to say anything that would contradict what he had said previously, then asked for a lawyer and the questioning ended.
Missoula Police detectives obtained a search warrant and found a small ivory-handled knife with a serrated edge inside the dishwasher. At the top of the stairs where Taeko was found, there were socks turned inside out, signifying they had been taken off.
In the bathroom, attached to the victim's bathroom there was a bathmat that appeared to be new. Inside one of the bedroom closets detectives found two black 30- 40 gallon garbage bags containing a bathmat, and sandals with blood on them. Also in the bags were pieces of mail with writing on the back of a letter that stated, "Mom is trying to destroy us."
Detectives also found a piece of carpet with potential blood stains. The section of the carpet appeared to match an area of carpet cut from near where Taeko's body was found.
During Taeko's autopsy, the medical examiner found approximately 30 stab wounds from a sharp object on her body in addition to her throat being cut. She had multiple cuts on her fingers and both hands.
Following a more thorough search of the garbage bags the following day, detectives found a pair of sweatpants and a T-Shirt with blood stains and suspected human tissue on them.
There were also multiple pieces of paper in which handwritten notes were found with statements including "Alibi: break-in next door" and "She has too much power", "no regrets, no remorse", "dissociate. But don't answer questions with specifics," "Ask what happened. Act dumb. Act sad," and "See it as a game!"