Lula Gillespie-Miller, who was found after 42 years in Texas, vanished from Laurel, Indiana, in 1974 after four men attacked, raped, and beat her and then threw her body over a bridge to die. Lula Gillespie-Miller was 28 years old and a widow after her husband had been killed in a car wreck four years before. The mom of four children filed a report with the police, but when nothing happened – she vanished.
When Lula Gillespie-Miller was found after 42 years living under an alias in a small South Texas town and Texas Rangers knocked on her door on Thursday, she admitted that she was indeed Lula Gillespie-Miller, the woman from Laurel, Indiana, who had vanished four decades ago. As NBC News 5 reports on March 25, the now 69-year-old woman gave Detective Scott Jarvis permission to contact her daughter.
The daughter of Gillespie-Miller had never given up hope of being able to find her missing mom again. In December 2014, she shared the following heartbreaking details about her mother’s disappearance:
“Lula Gillispie is my mom. She disappeared in 1973. This is what I know right now. My mom gave me, my half sister and two half brothers to my grandmother in 1971 so that she could raise us. Her husband, Joe Gambill, was killed in a car wreck in 1969 and so she was a widow and very young with four children. Apparently she was at Haspin Acresb on night in 1973 when four men attacked, raped, beat her and then threw her body over the Laurel bridge to die. I’m sure that they thought she wouldn’t make it but she did. She crawled up to the road and made it home to her mothers house, Emma Gillespie. Emma called the police and a statement was taken but the report was never filed. The next day she disappeared and never heard from again. In the statement she names the men who did this to her,” writes Tammy Miller and says the following about growing up without her mother:
“I grew up thinking that my mother had just chosen to go on with her life because she couldn’t handle being a mom and it wasn’t until 2010 while on Topix, I discovered the real story as to what happened to her. Since then I contact the police, filed a missing persons report and the case is still open. Doug Baker is the officer that is investigating her case but for the last few months I can’t get any response from him. The last time I spoke with him he claimed that he took a trip to Florida and spoke with the officer that actually took the report. He told me that he wanted to meet me and go over everything face to face but now he won’t even talk to me,” she continued in her post.
In regard to her mother’s reason for vanishing, Tammy says that “I know that Lula made some mistakes but to know that someone could have robbed her from the right to get her life straightened out and be a mother to her children is what hurts so bad. All the men in the statement are still alive and some of them are still to this day causing problems. Everyone in the town of Laurel knows about this story and all the other unsolved murders in the county but act as though they are all to afraid to say anything. Another strange thing that happened in recent years is that Lula’s brother Melvin was found murdered and rolled up in a piece of carpet. I don’t even think a single person has been questioned in either of these cases.”
In fact, the disappearance of Lula Gillespie-Miller remained a cold case until 2014 when the Doe Network, an organization that had been in touch with Gillespie-Miller’s family, contacted Detective Scott Jarvis. Jarvis received a DNA sample from the missing mom’s biological daughter, Tammy Miller, and during his investigation, he tracked Tammy’s mom from having lived in Tennessee in the 1980s to the small town in South Texas.
The last time Lula Gillespie-Miller had contacted her parents was in 1975 when she wrote a letter postmarked in Richmond, Indiana. Based on the heartbreaking details provided by Lula Gillespie-Miller’s daughter, her life’s story is not as simple as a mom abandoning her children.