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Couple's slaying disrupts tiny Maine town

By Gabriel Falcon, CNN
Valerie and Michael Miller were found dead inside their Webster Plantation home Saturday afternoon, investigators said.
Valerie and Michael Miller were found dead inside their Webster Plantation home Saturday afternoon, investigators said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Valerie and Michael Miller, both 47, were discovered dead in their home Saturday
  • Autopsies confirmed they were victims of a homicide, a police spokesman said
  • The Millers lived in Webster Plantation, a remote town of about 80 people
RELATED TOPICS
  • Murder and Homicide
  • Maine
  • Crime

(CNN) -- Webster Plantation is among the smallest communities in Maine, if not the country. With a population of about 80, the two-road town has fewer residents than a New York subway car during rush hour.

It's so tiny that Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, didn't even know it existed until a few days ago.

"Frankly, before Sunday, I've never heard of it," he said. "It's that remote, and it's that small."

That small-town ambiance was shattered last weekend when authorities discovered the bodies of a couple, who were known by many in the community.

An investigation is ongoing, and authorities say there are no suspects.

Situated near the center of the state, Webster Plantation is a throwback to a bygone era. Violent crime is rare in the rural farming area.

"This is one of those places where everybody left cars unlocked and keys in the vehicle," said Bob Jacobs, owner of the Millstream Grocery.

Police have released few details about the crime.

The victims, Valerie and Michael Miller, both 47, were discovered in their home Saturday afternoon, investigators said. McCausland said police are looking for a woman seen leaving the Millers' house on the day the bodies were found. They want to question her.

Investigators won't say how the couple died or anything about the crime scene. The Millers have two grown children who live nearby, but police haven't said whether either was in the home with the couple.

The husband and wife had lived in their Webster Plantation home for decades.

"They lived there as long as I can remember," said Theo Jipson, 81, whose house is a short walk from the couple's mobile home.

The killings, the town's first in at least 20 years, have shocked the region and shattered the area's sense of security and peace.

"You kind of wonder, 'Is it a threat to anybody else?' " Jacobs asked. "People are kind of nervous. Do I open the door for somebody, or do I not open the door for somebody?"

McCausland said the woman seen leaving the house was described as middle-aged, with a ponytail and glasses.

"We would like to find her and interview her," McCausland said. "We have appealed to the public for help. So far, we've had half a dozen calls. So far, she's still among the missing."

Authorities were summoned to the Miller home by a concerned neighbor. McCausland said she went to the house and saw something suspicious, but he won't say what that was. The neighbor called firefighters, who found the victims' bodies.

At first, it was believed that the couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning, McCausland said. However, autopsies performed by the medical examiner confirmed that they were the victims of a homicide, he added.

McCausland refused to comment on the cause of death.

"Not getting into speculation, and we're releasing very few details about this case," he said. "We're still investigating."

Jipson, who said she was the town's tax collector for more than 50 years, fondly remembered the couple.

"They were nice people," she said. "I would usually see her at the grocery store shopping. ... He was very, very kind. He always said, 'Look, if you folks need any help, don't be afraid to call me.' "

Jacobs, who runs a nearby convenience store, said he would occasionally see the Millers.

"It's something that catches you by surprise," he said of the killings. "You have the grapevine, and there are all these rumors going around, and people are nervous."

Anyone with more information is being asked to contact the Maine State Police at 207-866-2122.

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