Sue Chapman says she feels like she's walking in somebody else's nightmare and wonders when she will wake up.
Chapman's younger brother, William Joseph "Bill" Miller, 30, was shot June 27, allegedly by a man he knew while growing up in Duchesne. Miller died the day after the shooting at a Salt Lake hospital."You can't accept it," said Chapman. "I am numb."
The Miller family moved to Duchesne in the 1960s. Sue Chapman "vaguely remembers" 29-year old Jason Todd Westergard, the man accused of pointing a .45 caliber handgun one inch away from Miller's left temple and pulling the trigger once.
"There were occasions they were together, but to call them friends since infancy, no. The two knew each other but weren't good friends."
Miller left Duchesne in his late teens but had recently returned to the area from Oregon to find work and live closer to family - his mother, Mary Miller, still lives in Duchesne and three of his seven siblings live in the Uintah Basin. Miller had moved to Mountain View, Wyo., just prior to his death. On the weekend of the shooting, Westergard had gone to Mountain View to pick Miller up and bring him to a friend's apartment in Heber.
Westergard initially told police Miller had committed suicide. Heber City Police Chief Ed Rhoades said investigators never thought it was a suicide and very early on in the investigation had ruled out Westergard's claim.
On July 1, Westergard was charged with first degree felony murder, two second degree felony counts of witness tampering and tampering with evidence, and a third degree felony count for possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He turned himself into police the following day in the office of his attorney, Ron Yengich, in Salt Lake City.
Westergard is being held in the Wasatch County jail on $25,000 cash-only bond. Westergard served time in the Utah State Prison on a Duchesne County burglary conviction. He recently completed parole.
Chapman said she has her own theories about the motive behind the killing but can't talk about them for legal reasons. At this time police aren't commenting on a possible motive either.
One woman and two infants were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, and another woman was just outside the door, he said. Alcohol was involved.
"Whatever the motive, he (Westergard) has to live every day with what he did to Bill and our family," Chapman said. "We're just concerned as a family that the public be aware of what happened, because it was circulating that it was a suicide. The details are upsetting, but if it's the truth we want the truth and we want it made public."
Miller was described by his sister as an avid fisherman who had recently taken up the sport of golf with great enthusiasm. "His red Chev was the love of his life. He was very friendly and made friends everywhere. . . . Bill just lived his life."
Chapman said the family appreciates support offered by Heber police investigating the crime.
"They called a special meeting with our family to assure us they were doing everything possible to investigate it to the fullest extent."
Rhoades and two other officers are working on the investigation full time, he said. Other officers are assisting.