Dial M for Mistaken

The supposedly salacious slaying of a Ft. Lewis Army couple isn't all it's been cracked up to be.

When accused murderer Ivette Davila arrives for a hearing scheduled for next week at Fort Lewis, the family and friends of her alleged victims hope the true story of their March homicides will finally emerge. The 22-year-old Davila, a petite, attractive Army honor guard and chemical specialist, is accused of murdering married sergeants Randi and Tim Miller, aged 25 and 27, with a silencer-equipped pistol before dousing their bodies with corrosive acid.Supporters of the two Iraq War veterans are irate at implications that Randi somehow precipitated the killings. News stories and blog rumors about her supposed affair with Davila's ex-boyfriend are "complete B.S.," says Army nurse Lisa Howell, a friend of the Millers. "The one certainty about this case is that the Millers were really faithful," she adds. "Their marriage and their baby were their life. They were attractive and had friends and fun—the night they were killed, they had been together at a gay nightclub. But cheat on each other? No, absolutely."To deal with the trauma of the so-called Pierce County "love triangle" shootings, relatives and others have taken to the Internet, intending to set the record straight on what they see as erroneous information about the Millers' married life and violent deaths, while also therapeutically chatting with the departed couple through cyberspace."Some strange things have been happening lately Randi, and I don't know what you two are trying to tell me, but I have been seeing you guys everywhere!!" a friend wrote the other day on one of a half-dozen MySpace sites devoted to remembering the Millers, who met and married in the Army and are survived by a 10-month-old child, Kassidy, now in the custody of her grandparents.The Millers' separate MySpace pages are still maintained and visited by their friends here and families in Nevada and New Hampshire. Besides painful regrets, there are upbeat personal greetings to the couple on special occasions such as Mother's and Father's Days, as well as the latest news on how their child is doing. "Hi Randi," writes one relative. "I hope you saw Miss Kassidy trying to walk last evening. She is going to be running by Friday if she has her way."But there is anger as well, in part over news reports that Randi Miller was having an affair with Davila's ex-boyfriend, and over comments posted to a blog by Davila's sister. Adding fuel is "Miss Davi's" own MySpace page, which, until it was recently taken private by Davila's family, included photos of the leggy accused murderer in spiked heels and minidresses, along with images of handguns and sexy photos of a group of female friends known as the GBBs (Gorgeous Badd Bitches).According to a page image captured by truecrimeweblog.com, Davila wrote of herself (sic): "I'm A SoldIer* I'm always listening to music* i like ballet *i like any type of fruit juice* I like fishing* I like to run* I have a punk/fucked up emo/chola' wardrobe* i like earth/dirt* I enjoy planting gardens* I like gorgeous snakes."Davila, who enlisted just after Christmas 2004 but hasn't served overseas, was indeed a friend of the Millers, as the trio left messages on one another's MySpace sites, including a note from Davila to Tim Miller in January asking: "how was your leave? did [sic] anyone break into your house?"As it turns out, Davila is now accused of breaking into the Millers' tidy rambler on 110th Street in Parkland, a Tacoma suburb, likely before midnight on March 1, after the couple had returned home from a night out. Prosecutors say Davila shot Randi as she lay on her bed, then shot Tim as he showered. Their child, contrary to news reports, was not at home, but with a babysitter elsewhere.Later that morning, prosecutors say, Davila drove to a Lowe's Home Improvement store and bought a gallon of muriatic acid, a dangerous corrosive used to clean masonry. Trained as a chemical-operations soldier, Davila also bought safety equipment, including a respirator, officials say (the acid is said to emit a suffocating odor that instantly burns the linings of the nose, throat, and lungs). She then allegedly returned to the house and, using a tarp to move Randi's body into the bathroom tub with Tim's, poured acid on the corpses. The plan may have been to distort their identities or dissolve the bodies, which obviously failed, say investigators. Davila later picked up the couple's child from the babysitter's home, bought diapers and other baby needs, and returned to Fort Lewis, where she suddenly decided to confess, prosecutors say.A person familiar with the case says Randi's cell phone was used after her death to send a text message to Davila's ex-boyfriend, also a friend of Randi's. The message was sent as if from Randi, and might have been an attempt to suggest she was still alive at that time, establishing an alibi for the killer. Furthermore, Miller's phone, wallet, credit cards, and other crime evidence—including Lowe's receipts, a jug of acid, a 40-caliber Glock pistol, a silencer, 100 rounds of ammunition, and a 22-inch machete—were found in Davila's 2006 Mitsubishi sedan and Fort Lewis barracks. Investigators also obtained bloodstain samples from Davila's shower and seized a laptop computer.Media reports implied Randi was having an affair with Davila's ex, based apparently on a claim by Davila mentioned in initial charging papers, which stated: "Randi Miller was in a relationship with Davila's ex-boyfriend, another soldier, who had apparently chosen Randi Miller over Davila." But friends of the Millers say if Davila did make such a claim, it was distorted. There was a "relationship" between Randi and the ex, but it was platonic, they say. The ex, who was close to both Randi and Tim and served with them at military hospitals in Iraq in 2006, had a girlfriend other than Davila at the time and lives out of state.Friend Lisa Howell, like others, suspects the alleged killer was indeed jealous, but only of the couple's life. "It was everything [Davila] didn't have," says Howell, referring to the Millers' marriage, home, and baby.The Army, which has taken over the case from Pierce County authorities, isn't saying anything prior to its August 15 Article 32 hearing for Davila, who is being held at the Navy brig in Bangor. ("We aren't releasing any information," says Fort Lewis spokesperson Catherine Caruso.) At the hearing, much like a grand jury session, military prosecutors will present their case for sending Davila to a court martial, where she could be tried for double murder and face the death penalty.Davila could plead insanity, some observers think. Both Miller's supporters and the Davila family suggest that her allegedly impulsive crime and quick confession suggest a psychotic element. A Davila family member in Bakersfield, Calif., says they don't want to comment, but confirms the authenticity of posts made on truecrimeweblog.com by one of Davila's sisters, suggesting the soldier was in a fog or might have been framed."First of all when she turned herself in all she all said was that she killed two people...she never said why...in fact she didnt [sic] even remember doing it," wrote the sister, who spells Ivette's name with a Y. "Randi and Tim were faithful to each other and they were Yvettes [sic] best friends," she added. She goes on to claim Davila was out with the Millers that evening, when she was falling-down drunk and may have been drugged as well. "Think about it people...if she couldnt [sic] walk, how did she do it...personally I think she was set up and so do the investigators."As for Davila's ex-boyfriend, her sister writes: "Yes my sister loved him because that was her first boyfriend, but no that wasnt her motive...No one really knows what happened that night and she doesnt even remember why she shot them, or shooting them for that matter." [ all sic]Some blog commentators answered with vitriolic name-calling (wrote one relative: "Your ignorant sister was not my brothers [sic] and sisters [sic] best friend...I hate you and your family"), while a sister-in-law of the Millers more calmly responded: "We, as the family, know things— information from the Military and Police, insight on what happened that night, how it happened, and why it happened. But all that anyone but family needs to know is that Tim and Randi were slaughtered unnecessarily and brutally...And that Ivette snapped and did the most horrible thing possible—took two innocent lives and destroyed countless others."Yet ultimately, as Miller friend Lisa Howell puts it, "She saw to it that she's the only witness. Now she can say whatever she wants."randerson@seattleweekly.com

 
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