Madison man allegedly admitted to witness he struck Hayes in head, placed body in pond on his property

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Lyle Miller | Photo courtesy of Monroe County Jail

MADISON, Mo. — Lyle W. 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 Friday in Monroe County Circuit Court.

Miller, 65, was arrested Friday night. He is charged with second-degree murder, a Class A felony, in a felony complaint document filed Friday by Nicole D. Volkert, prosecuting attorney for Monroe County. If found guilty, Miller faces a range of punishment of 10 to 30 years or life imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He also could receive a fine of as much as $20,000.

“We can finally begin the process of bringing closure to a family and justice to a community,” Volkert said. “Mr. Miller is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s dive team and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search on Friday and found human remains in a pond in Monroe County at 2:40 p.m.

The search was done in connection with the investigation into the 2021 disappearance of Hayes.

The probable cause statement, filed by Monroe County Sheriff Joe Colston, said members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol were executing a search warrant on Miller’s residence, 13363 Monroe Road 1114 in Madison, on Friday based on information collected on Thursday.

While executing the warrant, Colston and other investigators interviewed a witness at approximately 9:45 a.m. in reference to the Hayes case.

The witness said that on Dec. 17, 2021, the day Hayes went missing, he observed Miller in his 1992 Chevrolet Lumina driving eastbound from Madison at a high rate of speed at a late hour. Around daybreak the next morning, Miller woke up the witness to help with extinguishing a brush fire near a new pond at 13626 Monroe Road 1114. The witness also described other suspicious behavior exhibited by Miller, including probing on a pond on a 40-acre plot owned by Miller.

The witness also said that around April 2023 he was discussing with Miller recent news about a mushroom hunter finding possible remains south of Paris, Mo., with the remains possibly being those of Hayes. Miller allegedly stated that wasn’t where Hayes was.

A few days later, Miller told the witness he had killed Hayes by striking her in the head. Miller added he had placed her body in the pond on his 40-acre plot.

Colston then wrote he obtained a search warrant for the 40-acre plot south of Route AA that was confirmed to be owned Miller. The dive team found remains in the pond consistent with those of Hayes.

Miller was arrested at approximately 8:10 p.m. Friday for the murder of Hayes.

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

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 on no bond and is in the custody of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. However, Monroe County Judge Talley Smith has been assigned to the case. Dates for a bond hearing and an arraignment hearing have not yet been set.

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