Alex Tresniowski/Dickinson and Anne Lang/Dickinson
August 13, 2007 12:00 PM

Tim Miller, 60 Dickinson, Texas

Founder, Texas EquuSearch

HERE COMES THE CAVALRY

Alerted to a missing person by relatives or police, Miller marshals dozens of volunteers—plus horses, planes, boats and sonar equipment—to help understaffed police departments conduct searches. Since starting TES in 2000 he has led 730 searches—often from atop a bay horse named Trojan—involving 42,000 volunteers in 30 states. TES searchers have located 200 live people and 71 bodies.

HIS OWN TRAGEDY

In 1984, Miller’s younger daughter Laura, 16, disappeared half a mile from their League City, Texas, home. Police found her remains 17 months later, but her murder remains unsolved. Miller’s obsession with finding her killer led him to start TES. “I vowed never to turn my back on a family in need,” says Miller. “When I hear a parent’s anguished voice, how can I say no?”

PERSONAL TOLL

Miller, a building contractor, pays for searches—including several for Natalee Holloway—through donations, fundraisers and grants. But he makes up budget shortfalls out of his pocket and has sunk around $100,000 into TES. “It’s killed his credit and made life very tough for us,” says his wife, Georgeann, 58.

WHAT KEEPS HIM GOING

“For a long time I’d go to the field where they found Laura’s bones and try to make sense out of it, and I couldn’t until I started TES,” he says. “Now every time we find someone, I say, ‘Laura, your death was not in vain.'”

Know a hero? Send suggestions to HEROESAMONGUS@PEOPLEMAG.COM and include your name, phone and e-mail. For info on Tim Miller, go to WWW.TEXASEQUUSEARCH.ORG

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