The founder of Texas EquuSearch, the volunteer search and rescue organization that has assisted missing persons cases around the country for more than 20 years, has been awarded more than $24 million in a wrongful death lawsuit over the cold case abduction and murder of his daughter.
Tim Miller founded EquuSearch in August 2000 in honor of his daughter Laura Miller, who was abducted in 1984, when she was 16. Her remains were found along with those of three other women two years later.
Although no suspect has been charged in Laura Miller’s death, Miller sued Clyde Edwin Hedrick, a convicted killer and the man he believes is responsible. The original petition alleges that Hedtrick "abducted and killed" Laura Miller after she left her Texas home for a walk on Sept. 10, 1984.
Hedrick has been convicted of numerous other crimes over the years, including manslaughter in the 1984 death of Ellen Ray Beason, court records show.
After Hedrick, who has since been paroled, failed to show up for the civil trial, the judge granted a default judgment in Miller’s favor for damages and other costs, according to authorities.
A proposed final judgment obtained by the Houston-based KPRC-TV lists itemized awards for more than $11 million in actual damages, $10 million in exemplary damages and more than $2.8 million in interest. A signed final judgment was not yet available Thursday afternoon.
Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady, who prosecuted the manslaughter conviction in 2014, said the investigation into Laura Miller’s death remains open and active.
"We continue to work with multiple law enforcement agencies to identify and charge the person responsible for murdering Laura Miller in 1984," he said. "Clyde Hedrick has not been ruled out as a suspect in these investigations."
EquuSearch, a nonprofit organization, focuses primarily on horse-mounted searches over sprawling outdoor areas. The group also uses other assets including sonar and radar equipment, boats, aircraft and drones.
In the 22 years since its founding, the group has assisted more than 2,000 cases, helping recover 428 missing persons alive and the remains of 326 deceased victims, according to its website.
The group has recently assisted with high-profile cases including those of Dylan Rounds, the 19-year-old Utah farmer who vanished under suspicious circumstances in May, and Summer Wells, the Tennessee 6-year-old who went missing from her parents’ home last summer.