Charge against Madison man amended to first-degree murder after autopsy shows cuts to throat on 88-year-old woman in pond

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Lyle Miller | Photo courtesy of Monroe County Jail

PARIS, Mo. – A Madison man accused of killing an 88-year-old woman in 2021 waived his right to have amended charges read to him and pled not guilty to first-degree murder on Monday morning.

Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Nicole D. Volkert filed her complaint, amending the original second-degree murder charge against Lyle W. Miller, 65 to first-degree murder, on Monday.

If convicted of the Class A felony, Miller faces either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The amended complaint includes a second count of tampering with physical evidence, a Class E felony that carries a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine not to exceed $10,000. 

Miller allegedly admitted to a witness he struck 88-year-old Betty L. Hayes of Holliday, Mo., in the head and placed her body in a pond on a 40-acre lot he owned, according to a probable cause statement filed in in July in Monroe County Circuit Court.

The witness told Monroe County Sheriff Joe Colston that Miller allegedly was upset with Hayes because he believed Hayes owed him money for work he performed for her.

Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s dive team and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search in a pond in Monroe County on July 28 and found human remains. Miller was arrested shortly thereafter.

During a preliminary hearing Monday morning in Monroe County Circuit Court before Judge Talley Smith, prosecutors presented evidence that an autopsy revealed Hayes also suffered three cuts to her throat, which they said shows the act was premeditated, necessitating the first-degree murder charge.

Hayes was reported missing at approximately 4:24 p.m. Dec. 17, 2021. The last known contact with Hayes was by a family member on the evening of Dec. 16, 2021.  She was believed to have been at her home in Holliday, Mo., at that time. Hayes was 5-foot-2 and weighed 86 pounds.

Miller is being held without bond in the Randolph County Jail in Huntsville. He is being represented by Columbia attorney Jeffrey Hilbrenner.

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