Fla. Teen’s 1996 Murder Remains Unsolved. Will a Police-Produced Podcast Give Family Answers?
Police in Boynton Beach, Fla., have created a true-crime serial hoping listeners will help them solve the cold-case killing of Victoria Rose Miller
The still-unsolved murder 25 years ago of 18-year-old mom Victoria Rose Miller cast her brokenhearted family adrift.
A rider on horseback spotted her body in the brush behind the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Boynton Beach, Fla., shortly before noon on May 11, 1996. She'd last been seen at a party two nights earlier, and was reported missing by her mother. When found — a victim of rape and dead from blunt force trauma — her throat had been slit, say detectives, who believe she was killed elsewhere and dumped.
Vickie had four sisters and a brother, and everything that followed for them "was extremely turbulent," her sister Alexis Miller, who was 8 years old at the time, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "Her death seems to be that defining moment where my memories really began. I have two daughters of my own and I try not to be overprotective. But that shadow of my sister and what happened to her is always present."
Police, too, felt the weight of an unsolved crime, unable through the decades to provide answers to Miller's family or bring Vickie's killer to justice. The enduring mystery is featured on tonight's episode of PEOPLE (the TV Show!).
But now they hope they've found a way to unlock the cold case. Last year, Boynton Beach police debuted Rosebud, a six-part podcast created by the department that lays out clues about Miller's life and last hours in the manner of a narrative true-crime thriller, meant to engage the public's help to catch her killer.
For more about Victoria Rose Miller and the search for her killer, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.
"Right off the bat I was getting calls," says Det. Jeff Gleicher. The podcast even brought in tips from retired law enforcement officers. "Sergeants, detectives that were working the case back then, it refreshed their memories," says Gleicher. "'Hey, this happened, maybe you should look into that.' It was definitely beneficial."
The approach piggybacks on the popularity of true-crime podcasts that began with Serial in 2014, and Boynton Beach is not alone in mining its potential. In 2019 the NYPD launched its podcast Break in the Case with the story of an unidentified 4-year-old girl whose body turned up in an abandoned cooler. Newport Beach, Calif., police created the podcast series Countdown to Capture, chronicling their search for fugitive Peter Chadwick, wanted after the 2012 death of his wife, Quee Choo.
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While such police podcasts have so far had limited success in cracking cases, they are an effective outreach that beats "the antiquated 'wanted' poster," says Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "It's yet another dissemination mechanism for police departments needing assistance from the public."
For the family of Victoria Rose Miller, the effort "definitely is hopeful," says her sister Alexis, now 33. "Everything happened so long ago. To know the case is being looked at again, it feels unreal."
"Growing up, it was always something negative," she says. "To know her killer was found, if he was punished, it would be easier for me to celebrate her life."
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