An optimist would say Maureen and Gervase Miller are on the verge of getting information that could lead to revealing the circumstances of their son’s death 22 years ago.
After all those years, optimism is at a premium for the New Waterford couple.
“Optimism? More like determination,” said Maureen Miller in a telephone interview Sunday.
In two weeks, the Millers will get a packet of information from the Justice Department of the department's internal records following the death of 17-year-old Clayton Miller in May 1990.
His body was found in a stream at a New Waterford park two days after local police raided a teenage party in the woods.
“Any parent who saw what we saw when Clayton’s body was taken out of the brook, and all the information we collected over the years, would never give up,” said Miller.
“When I saw my husband and a police officer lay his body down on the ground, I knew he was murdered.
“His hand was up by his neck and his arm was twisted behind his back and his face was a mess.”
In a June 8 letter to the couple’s lawyer, Ray Wagner, a Justice Department bureaucrat indicated the high volume of documents in the file necessitated a two-week extension of the deadline to provide the documents.
That follows on the heels of a 30-day extension.
The extension was necessary because of “the large volume of records that had to be reviewed so we could identify and consult with other public bodies,” wrote Crystal McGraw.
“What’s two weeks after 22 years?” asked Miller.
Equally important, by the end of August the couple will have files relating to the RCMP investigation into events surrounding their son’s death. There are over 13,000 documents, CDs and DVDs.
An investigation by the Office of the Information Commissioner into the couple’s lengthy wait for copies of those files confirmed what the Millers believed all along.
“The investigator sent her conclusions in a letter to our lawyer on June 4 and basically says the RCMP asked for a nine-month extension, and it was up in April 2011,” Miller said.
The letter was written by Carmen Garrett, chief of operations, complaint resolution and compliance, with the Office of the Information Commissioner.
“Since the RCMP did not respond to the request by the expiry of the nine-month extended period, we find that as of April 30, 2011, the institution placed itself in deemed refusal pursuant to sub-section 10 (3) of the act,” Garrett wrote.
When a public institution is in a “deemed refusal” position, the Office of the Information Commissioner can investigate and make recommendations.
“We were able to have the RCMP commit to completing the processing of the request and issue its final response to your client by Aug. 29, 2012,” Garrett wrote.
Miller said the documents from the province and the RCMP will provide a bonanza of information.
“The more we know, the better because eventually we’ll get the right information that will lead to justice for Clayton, and that’s all we want.”
Gervase Miller has been a familiar sight on the streets of New Waterford for almost all of the 22 years since his son, Clayton, was found dead in a brook. He carries a sign through the town, blaming police for murdering his son. (MARY ELLEN MACINTYRE / Cape Breton Bureau)