An estranged Erwin husband and wife who had a history of domestic problems were shot to death Monday in what authorities believe was a murder-suicide, an Erwin Police Department investigator said.
Lattie Miller, 61, and Karen Denise Miller, 46, were found dead with gunshot wounds in a pool house at 519 Lattie Miller Road, Investigator Regan Tilson said. He said they were shot with a .38-caliber revolver but did not know how many shots were fired. Police found four spent casings, the officer said.
Mrs. Miller was living in the house, and her husband was “staying from place to place,” he said.
“I wanted to make it clear that we’re not looking for a suspect running around,” Tilson said. “There’s no danger to the public at this point.”
911 received the call at 8:48 a.m., and multiple Erwin police officers and a Unicoi County sheriff’s deputy responded, he said. According to Tilson, they called for an ambulance, and medical personnel confirmed the deaths.
“We had an initial call of shots fired in that area,” he said. “From what I understood, it was a neighbor who called, but I’m not sure of the person’s name.”
Tilson said he could not say whether the man or the woman was the first shooter because he did not have the proof to establish that. He said an autopsy would be performed on each victim.
Tilson said he did not know what led to the shootings. He said there were no signs of an argument or confrontation and said he had heard there were no major problems of late.
“There’s a ton of speculation, but it’s way too early for me to say for sure,” he said. “There was a domestic history (involving the two people).”
The investigator said an order of protection had been issued against Lattie Miller and said he understood the man was not supposed to come around his wife. He said he did not know why Lattie Miller was at the house Monday morning but learned that the man had not been going there previously, with communication between the two coming through family members.
Lattie Miller was charged by Erwin police on June 14 with aggravated assault and was set to be back in court on Aug. 2. His daughter, Desiree, told police that she and her father had argued and that he got a knife out of the sink and said he would kill her. Karen Miller said her husband was waving the knife “and stated he would take care of everybody.”
The next day, Desiree MIller and Karen Miller obtained orders of protection against Lattie Miller. In her petition, Karen Miller said her husband had also made a threat with a knife on June 12.
Tilson said he did not know exactly how long the couple had been married but said it was for an “extended time.”
Tilson said he called in the TBI to assist with the investigation.
“Even though it’s pretty obvious what had occurred, you still got to treat it so there won’t be any questions just like any other case,” he said.