Friends and family pay tribute to Barbara Miller

Barbara Miller Cold Case vigil organizer Scott Schaeffer stands with Eddie Miller Jr., son of Barbara Miller and his fiancée Tara Douglas during Sunday's remembrance service at Cameron Park, in Sunbury.

SUNBURY — Twenty-eight balloons were placed in Cameron Park for a remembrance service in Sunbury, representing the number of years that Barbara Miller has been missing.

The park, in downtown Sunbury, was filled with 150 friends and family members of the woman who went missing in July 1989 at the age of 30.

She was last seen by friends at a wedding June 30, 1989. Five days later, her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Walter “Mike” Egan, reported her missing to Sunbury police. Egan, an ex-city detective, was no longer with the force at the time of Miller’s disappearance.

Sunbury Chief Tim Miller, along with his cold case investigative task force members, Cpl. Travis Bremigen and Brad Hare, stood with Sunbury Mayor David Persing and City Council members Beth Kremer, Jim Eister and Rick Reichner during several speeches delivered by the elected officials along with the releasing of balloons donated by Jenna Eister Whitaker, of Sunbury.

"We are going to do everything we can to get closure for the family," Persing said.

Kremer, Eister and Reichner all praised Chief Miller for his efforts in reopening the case.

"The chief is doing a great job and we are behind him," Kremer said. "Barbara Miller was a person and her family deserves answers."

Eister said he was thrilled to see the community gather.

"This is so nice to see," Eister said. "I am so happy that all of you came out here tonight."

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz also participated in the event, organized by Point Township resident Scott Schaeffer, a friend of Barbara Miller's family.

Matulewicz said the case is difficult to solve because 28 years have passed since Barbara Miller was last seen.

"I give Chief Miller credit for doing what he is doing," Matulewicz said.

Schaeffer, 52, has played a key role in the re-opening of the Barbara Miller cold case, Sunbury Police Chief Tim Miller said.

Police believe Barbara Miller was murdered and her remains may have been buried inside the Milton residence that was a subject of a week-long dig in early June.

"I am here tonight and set this up because the family of Barbara Miller deserves closure," Schaeffer said.

"I have met with her son, Eddie (Miller), over the years and I told him I would make sure we continued to search for answers. Tonight it shows it is working."

The case had been cold until Chief Miller re-opened the investigation in March. He is not related to Barbara Miller.

Schaeffer said he never met Barbara Miller, but in 1989, Schaeffer's then-wife received a phone call on an answering machine from Barbara Miller, claiming she had evidence to prove Schaeffer was not involved in the 1986 murder of Ricky Wolfe, of Mifflinburg.

Barbara Miller went missing days after the phone call was placed, police said.

Schaeffer was convicted in the Wolfe murder case and released from prison in 1990 after serving 17 years.

Sunbury pastor Mark Gittens delivered the prayer and said he was thankful for Chief Miller.

"We are all excited that he is here with us in Sunbury," Gittens said. "We are thankful. And we are thankful for what he is doing for the family of Barbara Miller."

Eddie Miller Jr. stood with family members and although he declined to comment, he did say he was overwhelmed by the support.

"Chief Miller has designed a boat here," Cpl. Bremigen said during his comments. "There is room on the boat for every one of you to join us. And I have a simple message for you all. If you think we are done and we have nothing left and our boat will sink, I can only say to you all stay tuned because we are closer than you think."

Miller topped off the night with a message for those gathered in the park.

"I am encouraged by all of you who have joined our quest for answers," Chief Miller said. "Barb Miller was not just a name, she was a member of this community. It is people like all of you who have kept her memory alive. It would have been easy for all of you to forget and accept no answer as the answer, but you didn't. And here we are today, standing as one in solidarity."

Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com. Follow Francis on Twitter @scarcella11

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