Abused and starving, Chester Lee Miller, 18, was forced sometime this month to make a desperate 1,000-mile bus journey from the home of his mother and stepfather in Hazleton, Pa., to the Florida Panhandle, a place from which his natural father had earlier sent him packing.
Aboard the bus, in terminal after terminal, town after town, Miller said, he cried and begged strangers for help.
No one listened.
…Severely malnourished and succumbing to extensive organ failure, the youth died alone yesterday in a Florida hospital room.
His mother and stepfather, Lyda Miller, 37, and Paul Hoffman Sr., 38, who were charged earlier this week with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, face additional charges, police said last night: homicide.
And in Milton, population 7,400, the stranger who took in the dying boy nobody wanted said her family is trying to raise money for a funeral.
“We’re trying to at least let him have a decent burial,” Goodman said. “It’s the least we can do.” A relative of her family has donated a burial plot.
Though still hazy, the picture emerging of Chester Lee Miller’s life is one of suffering and torture.
Before he died, Miller was able to tell authorities that his father, Robert Lee Miller, dispatched him to Pennsylvania last year to live with his mother and stepfather in Hazleton, about 120 miles north of Philadelphia. He told of being kept mostly in one room, often forced to stand for hours in a corner, being beaten every day, fed only scraps of food, and not allowed out of the house to go to school or see friends.
Not related, but strangely timed, comes the story of an 11 year old pleading with police to save him from his parents.
And also not related, but immediately recalled, except for a wonderful Grandmother, Erica Pratt, the 7 year old who made headlines for escaping her kidnappers, has no family to rely on. “This is no environment for a child to grow up. Poverty. Drugs. Despair. And most importantly, an absence of male role models.” Yep.