Conspiracy & Manipulation: The Murder of Bruce Miller
On November 8th, 1999, Bruce Miller failed to return home from work to have dinner with his wife of less than a year, Sharee Miller. Sharee became concerned and contacted Bruce’s brother Chuck. Chuck went to the Flint, Michigan junk yard owned and operated by Bruce. Forty-eight-year-old Bruce Miller was found dead in puddle of his own blood. It would take
another death before authorities would learn the truth about who killed Bruce Miller. This is a story of conspiracy and manipulation. This is the story of the murder of Bruce Miller.
Bruce Leroy Miller was born July 26th, 1951, in Flint, Michigan. Bruce had worked several years for General Motors, as many residents of Flint, Michigan once had. After retiring from GM, Bruce went on to run an auto salvage business that he had started while still with the automotive company. Bruce also enjoyed racing and NASCAR. He had been married three times but seemed unlucky in love. While running his business, he met a young woman named Sharee Kitley. At first, he was not interested in Sharee romantically. Sharee pursued the relationship and the two fell hard for one another. They were married a few months later in April of 1999.
Sharee Paulette Kitley Miller was born October 13th, 1971, in Flint. Sharee had a troubled upbringing. Her mother had a revolving door of men, some of which sexually abused Sharee starting at age 3 or 4 (20/20 ABC, 2022). Sharee married at seventeen, but that marriage was not successful. She married once more, again ending in divorce. By her late twenties, Sharee was a single mother of three children. She worked at a nursing home and sold Mary Kay Cosmetics to make ends meet. When she accepted a job at Bruce’s auto salvage, she set her eyes on Bruce as her third husband. After four months of dating, the two married in Vegas.
Sharee and her kids moved in with Bruce, who treated her children as his own. The marriage provided stability for Sharee and her children. Just months before the marriage, Sharee had appeared on the Montel Williams Show to discuss abuse her ex-husband had allegedly inflicted upon one of her children. The financial security Bruce provided was also welcomed by Sharee. Bruce was twenty years older than Sharee, but the newlyweds seemed blissfully happy. However, the internet had made its way into American homes by the late 1990s, including the Miller household. Sharee became infatuated with internet chatrooms and quickly met a man named Jerry Cassaday.
Jerry Cassaday was born October 6th, 1960, in Kansas City, Missouri. He had been married and was the father of a son. Jerry loved deer hunting with his brothers. Jerry had previously worked as a police officer and homicide detective. Jerry had reported corruption involving falsification of records in a murder case, resulting in his boss being terminated. Despite doing the right thing, this move was career suicide. Jerry changed careers to security in casinos, eventually ending up in Reno, Nevada. Jerry started drinking often to the point that it was problematic. During this time, he met Sharee Miller online.
Sharee and Jerry start conversing over instant messages, emails, and in chatrooms. Sharee provided Jerry attention during a time he was very depressed. Sharee told Jerry she was very wealthy, something that also appealed to Jerry who was struggling financially. Their conversations soon became sexually motivated. Just three months after Sharee married Bruce, she flew out to Reno to meet Jerry and started a physical affair. She told her husband she was going to Reno for a Mary Kay convention.
After returning to Michigan, Sharee kept her relationship with Jerry alive by sending online messages and mailing him sexually explicit video tapes of herself. Jerry fell head over heals in love with Sharee. Jerry was delighted when Sharee told him that she was pregnant with their child. While some men may panic when a new girlfriend announced an unexpected pregnancy, Jerry was delighted. Almost as quickly as she announced the pregnancy, however, Jerry received emails from Bruce Miller stating he is aware of the affair and has beat Sharee, causing her to lose the child. Sharee confirms this, sending pictures of her bruised abdomen. Jerry was devastated.
Very soon after the loss of the baby, Sharee told Jerry she was once again pregnant. This time, however, she was pregnant with twins. Jerry begged Sharee to leave Bruce, take her kids, and come to live with him. Sharee explained that she could not do that because Bruce had mob connections and she was afraid he would kill her. Sharee continued making trips to Reno to see Jerry. At one point, Jerry was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in a casino. He then moved back to Missouri to be near family while trying to recover from his alcoholism.
Sharee and Jerry continued their relationship both online. Sharee sent pictures of ultrasounds and a growing belly. Then, Jerry received another email from Bruce. Bruce had once again beat Sharee until she lost her and Jerry’s twins. Jerry was once again devastated and filled with anger for Bruce Miller. He blamed Bruce for the death of his three children and abuse of the woman he loved.
Bruce was found dead in his salvage yard on November 8th, 1999 of a gunshot wound. Detectives notified his wife, Sharee, and felt she responded appropriately for a grieving widow. Sharee suggested a man named John Hutchison may be responsible. John was a friend of Bruce who had owed him money. When John walked into the funeral home, Sharee started screaming until he was removed from the funeral home. John’s brother made statements to police that John had made threats against Bruce and stated that Bruce had been “taken care of” (20/20 ABC).
John’s home was searched, and his guns were seized based off the statements of Sharee Miller and his own brother. John adamantly denied any involvement, and no evidence was found in his home connecting him to the murder. However, John failed a polygraph examination, leading authorities to believe they had found the killer. Police continued to investigate the murder for a few months, trying to build a case against John.
Then, another death occurred two states away in Odessa, Missouri on February 11th, 2000. This death was a suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was Jerry Cassaday. Jerry had killed himself with a 20-gauge shot gun, the same type used in the murder of Bruce Miller. Authorities, however, would have likely never connected the two deaths as they were not aware of Sharee and Jerry’s affair. Before his death, Jerry had explained to his brother that there was a brief case that should be opened if anything were ever to happen to him.
The brief case was quickly found, but authorities weren’t sure about opening it. Before opening the case, the bomb squad took x-rays and examined the briefcase. Jerry left a suicide note on the front of the case, explaining that he was in love with Sharee but had realized that Sharee had been lying to him. He admitted to killing Bruce Miller, under the belief that Bruce was abusing Sharee and had caused the deaths of his three children. Afterwards, he realized that Sharee had been lying to him. He felt guilty and stupid, leading him to commit suicide.
Inside the brief case was a plethora of evidence. Pages and pages of correspondence between Jerry and Sharee were found inside as well as travel records. The Michigan detectives were notified of the newly found evidence. Within these messages, Sharee and Jerry discussed how to kill Bruce, where to kill Bruce, and plotted the murder in great detail. Sharee appeared to be an accomplice in the conspiracy to commit the murder of Bruce Miller. After the murder, she started giving Jerry the cold shoulder.
When police went to find Sharee, she was in Reno with a new boyfriend. Once she was brought in for questioning, Sharee was confronted with the evidence against her. She continually denied any part of her husband’s murder. She suggested that Jerry had falsified the messages and communications and that Jerry acted alone. Despite her pleas of innocence, Sharee was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors believed that Sharee was a master manipulator who had convinced her lover to kill her husband under false pretenses.
Sharee’s trial was one of the first to use digital internet evidence to prove conspiracy. The prosecution shared the thousands of messages between Sharee and Jerry, demonstrating the lies Sharee had told Jerry. She had never been abused. She had never been pregnant with Jerry’s babies as she had a tubal ligation years ago. Her defense team, however, said the young woman was innocent and had no motive to kill her husband. The defense said that Sharee only received minimal money following the death, so that was not a viable motive. The defense pointed the finger at John Hutchison and also explained that Jerry Cassaday was a jilted lover wanting revenge.
According to Sharee, the sexually natured communications between her and her lover were just part of an online fantasy. She said she had lied about being pregnant to help Jerry’s depression. She said she lied about being abused in an attempt to convince Jerry to leave her alone. She adamantly denied typing the messages plotting the crime, insinuating Jerry had faked them using his experience as a homicide detective. However, police found evidence of these communications on Sharee’s computer. Sharee was found guilty and sentenced her to life in prison for the murder charge and 54 to 81 years for the conspiracy charge.
A federal prosecutor overturned Sharee Miller’s conviction in 2008, stating that Jerry’s suicide note should not have been admissible since the defense could not cross examine him. Unbelievably, after nine years in prison, Sharee was released pending her new trial. Jerry and Bruce’s families were both horrified. The prosecution fought to appeal this decision and reinstate her conviction and sentence. While out on bond, Sharee was found using the social networking sight Facebook in December of 2009. This stirred controversy, but her defense lawyer stated she only used it to keep in touch with family.
On June 21st, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals upheld the federal ruling that the suicide note was not admissible. The case was not over, however. On November 14th, 2011, the US Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals decision, eventually sending the case back to District Court. The District Court reinstated Miller’s convictions and sentences, revoking her bond. Sharee Miller was free for three years, but now she was to return to prison without a new trial. Sharee continued to maintain her innocence at that time.
In 2016, Sharee finally confessed to her role in the murder of Bruce Miller. The letter, sent to the judge, was seen as many as just another manipulative act aimed at garnering sympathy. In 2022, Sharee gave a public interview with 20/20 ABC. She admitted to starting her communications with Jerry even before her wedding to Bruce. She admitted that Bruce was not involved with the mafia and had never abused her. She admitted to using makeup to fake bruises and fake ultrasound pictures to manipulate Jerry.
According to Sharee, she did not do this for money. She said that she was afraid Bruce would learn who she really was. She felt it was easier for Bruce to be killed then for him to learn the truth about his new wife. Sharee admitted to knowing Jerry was suicidal and had a briefcase of evidence, but she believed that she could “talk her way out of anything” (20/20 ABC). She was so convinced she would be able to manipulate a jury and court that she declined a plea deal. She now shows remorse and accepts that she should stay in prison for life. However, Jerry and Bruce’s families believe this is just another manipulation by Sharee Miller. Sharee has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder while in prison. She remains incarcerated at Michigan’s Huron Valley Women’s Complex. She is not eligible for parole.
Morris, Mark. (2000). Ex-cop’s files show deceived lover. Detroit Free Press. 04 Oct 2000