Just Another Guy with Opinions

Dead Baby Cremated on BBQ Grill

Posted by shadmia on April 18, 2009

Joseph MillerNickella Reid

Joseph Miller, 28 and Nickella Reid, 23 both plead guilty to charges related to the death of their 2-year-old son, Deuntay Miller. The charges were filed when authorities – who were investigating the couple for massive scalding burns suffered by another child, Nicholas Miller aged 1, in November 2007 – discovered that one child was missing from the household.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, the depths of human depravity and callousness never fail to surprise, revolt and disgust you. This is one gut-wrenching, heartless tale of indifference to life and disrespect for the dead.

Miller and Reid of Lillibridge Street, Detroit, Mi. were both accused of trying to cremate their dead 2-year-old son on a barbecue grill, and then hiding the remains in order to continue to collect welfare benefits, amounting to $822 monthly. The couple also have four other young children.

Joseph Miller, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for Deuntay’s death and first-degree child abuse for the massive scalding burns suffered by Nicholas Miller. He was sentenced April, 16, 2009 by Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Callahan to 22 to 50 years in prison.

Nickella Reid, 23, was sentenced to ten to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and welfare fraud by the same judge.

Charges of welfare fraud against Reid’s mother, Dorethia Lippet, 51, were dismissed. She had been accused helping cover up Duentay’s disappearance.

It all began onĀ  November 11, 2007 when Reid and her mother took Deuntay’s 1-year-old brother, Nicholas Miller, to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, for second- and third-degree burns. The hospital became suspicious and the police were called. Prosecutors said at the time that 35% of Nicholas’ body had been burned.

The couple initially told the police that they had boiled water on the kitchen stove in preparation for Nicholas’ bath, but the boy fell in or was placed in the tub by a sibling. However, medical authorities said that the burns showed a line of demarcation, indicating the boy had been dipped and held in place in the scalding water.

Little Nicholas is still recovering from those burns. He is now in foster care but needs additional surgery. There have been no family visits.

It was while investigating the Nicholas Miller case that the question of Deuntay Miller’s whereabouts came up. At first the couple said that he was in “Chicago or down South” with relatives. When they insisted on seeing him, Reid enlisted the help of her mother, Dorethia Lippet, 51, who “provided” a grandchild to act the part of the missing son in front of child welfare officials.

It wasn’t until Wayne County Department of Human Services threatened to remove all the children from the household that Lippet advised her daughter to tell them the truth. That was when the story of Deuntay’s death came out.

Reid said that Deuntay died of natural causes and that Miller set his body on fire using gasoline and the family’s barbecue grill which was inside the house. She said they did not have any money for a burial. They hid the remains of the body in the house and continued to collect welfare benefits and food stamps for the child for almost 2 years.

When investigators started asking questions about the injuries to Nicholas, Miller said he took a cab to the home of Tammy Johnson, his sister, on Lappin Street, about 5.5 miles away. Under the pretense of doing laundry, he hid Deuntay’s remains in the ceiling of her basement, without her knowledge. He said he transported the bones in a garbage bag wrapped in a white blanket.

For the last several months, relatives had been wondering about the whereabouts of one of Miller’s children. They were told he was with other relatives, but Johnson had her doubts.

Tammy Johnson, said that she told relatives, “I’m getting the feeling that the baby is not alive.”

Officers from the Violent Crimes Task Force went to Tammy Johnson’s house and found the body of Deuntay Miller. Medical experts said examination of Deuntay’s skeletal remains showed healed breaks in both of his legs and signs of malnutrition in the development of his bones.

36th District Court Judge Donald Coleman dismissed murder and child abuse charges against Miller and Reid. Coleman said Wayne County’s prosecutor failed to show enough evidence to believe abuse by the parents caused Deuntay Miller’s death.

“My heart of hearts says there is something amiss, but I can’t make a probable cause determination on this suspicion,” Coleman said in court.

Those charges were later reinstated on appeal by the prosecutor. Just as the murder and child abuse trial was about to start both Miller and Reid decided to plead guilty.

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