Desperate man with a Desperate Gamble.

arrested man hands close up

Several years ago, I covered the police beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and wrote a lot of crime stories about a lot of criminals. This is one of them. Part 1.


Darrell Miller couldn’t sleep late at all on the morning someone must die.

He watched as the first fingers of daylight crawled across the dirty floor and chased the shadows out of his Uvalde jail cell.

And he thought about his wife who waited for him so far down the road in San Antonio. A judge had said she was nothing more than a common-law wife, but Darrell Miller had never needed a fancy-gilded piece of paper to make sure she belonged to him.

So they hadn’t said, “I do.”

They had done everything else they were supposed to do to consummate a marriage, and, besides, Darrell Miller loved her.

He missed her.

And he swore to himself that he would see her before another night came to separate them again.

Miller reached for the butcher knife that lay hidden beneath him, his reward for being a trusty.

Trusties had the opportunity to steal

Some didn’t.

Darrell Miller did.

In a Bexar County jail cell, a woman watched another day slip behind the bars to taunt her with the freedom she might never have again.

She was lonely and afraid.

She blamed Darrell Miller, and he didn’t give a damn – never did, never would.

He was no good and the woman knew it.

But, for a time, he had been hers, and having something was always better than doing without, and the woman had done without most all of her life.

Maybe that’s why she had taken the stolen credit card and bought so many clothes. For a few hours, she felt like a lady, a rich lady who was no longer ashamed of the dress on her back.

But she had no place to wear the new clothes in jail, and she cursed Darrell Miller, silently and aloud, and hoped the law had locked him so far away he would need a road map to find the front door.

Darrell Miller kept his eyes on the cell door and waited for the jailer to come and take him out for another day of hard work.

Miller grinned.

This was like no other day he had ever seen before.

There was a tinge of intoxication that ran through the blood in his veins, an awakening of the mind that seemed sharper a lot less congested than usual.

For this was the day when someone must die.

Miller wrapped his long fingers around the butcher knife and glanced at the clock. It was ten minutes after six on the morning of March 4.

He had to get out.

His wife needed him.

Only months earlier, Darrell Miller had walked away from the Illinois State Penitentiary after serving six years for armed robbery. His whole life had been wasted in a cell somewhere, always in trouble for theft, assault and battery, public intoxication, reckless driving or forgery.

Miller’s probation officer had called it “irresponsible living,” and he guessed it was. But now, Darrell Miller faced life in prison as an habitual criminal, and he had a lot of life ahead of him.

Darrell Miller was only thirty-one.

He had to get out.

He couldn’t take it.

Not anymore.

He figured his eleven-year-old son had been the only smart one in the family anyway.

His son had committed suicide.

He didn’t have to run anymore.

Darrell Miller.

He thought he could start over in Texas, escape his past. And he did all right until the winter night Miller barged into a Uvalde Pizza Hut waving a sawed-off shotgun.

He took the money.

He forced two women employees to disrobe.

Then he doused their clothes in hot water and ran.

Miller saw the humor in it

The law didn’t.

To Be Continued Tomorrow.

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