(DETROIT) — When Bruce Miller was found fatally shot at his Michigan salvage yard in November 1999, it was Jerry Cassaday who pulled the trigger.
But the one pulling the strings on Cassaday was his online girlfriend and the self-professed woman of his dreams, the woman who had convinced him to travel 800 miles to kill a man he thought was an abusive husband: Sharee Miller.
A few months later, Cassaday would die by suicide, an event that would unravel the web of lies Miller created online. Miller said her relationships with men on the internet were like a “game” to her.
“It was like a video game and each man and each relationship was another level to me and each level was harder,” Miller told “20/20” in November 2021. “It was seeing how much I could get away with, how much I could make somebody believe.”
Sharee Miller was convicted of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection to her husband’s death in 2000. In her first television interview from prison, Miller told ABC’s Juju Chang that she’s ready to explain why she did it.
“If I could just say it was so I could get money it wouldn’t sound as bad as it really was,” said Miller. “Bruce was so close to knowing who I really was, what was really inside of me.”
Miller, who was then a mother of three in her 20s, met Bruce Miller while working at his scrapyard in Flint, Michigan. Four months later, on April 23, 1999, they eloped to a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
During her marriage to Bruce Miller, Sharee Miller said she regularly talked to men on AOL chat rooms.
“I didn’t get up from in front of that computer,” Sharee Miller said. “Bruce worked at the shop and he had his business. So he was gone a lot.”
In these chat rooms, she met Cassaday, a former homicide detective, who then worked at a casino in Reno, Nevada.
“I spent hours upon hours online. It’s sex. I wanted to be in control of everything, obsessively in control of that man,” said Miller.
At the time, Cassaday was in the midst of a divorce and was having deep financial problems, according to Detective Kevin Shanlian, who investigated the case at the time.
Miller and Cassaday’s online relationship soon turned physical and she traveled multiple times to meet him. Cassaday began to fall for Sharee Miller and he reportedly told his mother that she was the “woman of [his] dreams.”
However, Miller began to fabricate stories, and told Cassaday that her husband was involved in the mafia and was abusive. She also claimed that she was pregnant with Cassaday’s child and sent him pictures, including positive pregnancy tests and photos of her stomach.
“I just pushed my belly out. Jerry wanted to believe so bad that I believed that he’d see the pregnancy even though it wasn’t there,” said Miller. Later, she would tell Cassaday that her husband, Bruce Miller, had found out about her pregnancy and beat her, causing her to lose the baby.
“I think I wrote him in a chat. I didn’t tell him on the phone. He was devastated,” said Miller, who said she used makeup to send Cassaday a photo of her “bruised” stomach.
Not even a few months later, Miller told Cassaday that she was pregnant again, but this time with twins. Soon after the news, Cassaday received an email, purportedly from Bruce Miller, saying that he forced his wife to abort the twins.
That drove Cassaday to a breaking point.
“His babies, not only one but then two twins, had been killed by Bruce Miller. And that just enraged him — as it would any man,” said Shanlian.
Sharee Miller and Cassaday hatched a plan to kill her husband, she said. Cassaday would travel to Michigan and shoot Bruce Miller while he was at work at the salvage yard he owned.
“It was almost like a movie, that we were just playing a game,” said Miller. “But after I met [Jerry] at the truck stop … I knew this was going to happen.”
At that rest area, Sharee Miller handed Cassaday her cellphone and gave him final instructions for the murder.
On Nov. 8, 1999, Bruce Miller was shot in the neck and upper back in the office of his scrapyard.
“Afterwards … he called my landline and let it ring once and hung up. … That was his signal to tell me he was on his way back to Kansas City,” Sharee Miller said.
At the time, police believed John Hutchinson, who had worked for Bruce Miller and had recently borrowed $2,000, to be the main suspect in the case.
“I remember, like, me saying that John owed Bruce money, which he did, and that they had been arguing about it,” Sharee Miller said.
Police interrogated Hutchinson and also confronted him with their suspicion that he might be involved in a scheme to overcharge customers at Bruce Miller’s lot. Authorities suspected that this was a substantial enough motive for murder.
Hutchinson adamantly denied killing Bruce Miller and being involved in a scheme.
After the murder, Sharee Miller began to give Cassaday the cold shoulder and started to date other men. Cassaday began to question their relationship and Sharee Miller’s intentions.
Eight hundred miles away, in Odessa, Missouri, Cassaday died by suicide on Feb. 11, 2000.
Under his bed, family members discovered a black briefcase that contained a letter that explained that he had finally realized that Sharee Miller had been lying to him about Bruce Miller’s alleged behavior.
The briefcase also contained records of airline flights, hotel rooms, emails and chat messages between Cassaday and Sharee Miller that seemed to implicate her in the murder of Bruce Miller. The evidence was then turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department. There was enough evidence to implicate Sharee Miller and she was arrested.
“I felt like I could talk my way out of anything,” Sharee Miller said. “I still in my head felt like there’s no way they’re not going to believe me.”
Miller claimed that the emails found in Cassaday’s briefcase were forged, but the circumstantial evidence mounted against her. She was charged with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Miller went on trial In 2000. Her defense used an expert witness to testify that it was possible to fake an email, but later the testimony crumbled under cross-examination because the expert could not explain how exactly Cassaday forged Sharee Miller’s emails.
“She used manipulation to get everything from a free lunch to someone to commit murder for her,” said Shanlian.
The jury deliberated for two days and delivered a guilty verdict on all charges. Miller was sentenced to life in prison. Miller said the weight of the situation hit her after the jury’s verdict.
“It’s over. People really know what I am, what I did, I’m going to prison,” said Miller.
Miller was granted an automatic appeal and nine years after her sentence an appellate judge determined that Cassaday’s suicide note shouldn’t have been used as evidence during the trial.
The judge ruled that Miller should be retried. Miller was free to post bond and leave prison.
“It was so much easier lying about it to myself,” said Miller. “It’s so much easier to look at yourself when you don’t have to look at yourself with the truth.”Prosecutors fought for three years to get Miller’s conviction reinstated. The hard work paid off when a court ruled that Cassaday’s suicide note was, in fact, admissible in court and that Miller would not be retried.
Miller was ordered back to prison.
Instead of filing another appeal, Miller said she was done lying. She sent a letter to the prosecutors confessing her guilt. She said in the letter that she didn’t want the Miller family and the Cassaday family to suffer anymore.
“There’s no way for me to change or undo what I did. It’s forever, and I can’t take it back,” said Miller. “I don’t feel that I deserve to live life and be happy when [Bruce and Jerry] don’t get that chance.”
Miller said she has chosen to publicly come forward with her story in an effort to find peace with herself.
“I still have a really hard time looking in the mirror knowing what I did,” said Miller. “I waited to tell the truth until I get nothing from it, but, hopefully, a sense of peace.”
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