Fam­ily search­ing for an­swers

Son’s death re­mains a mys­tery decades af­ter po­lice raid in New Water­ford

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY ALY THOM­SON

An­other twist has been added to the heart-break­ing story of a Nova Sco­tia teen who died 27 years ago.

This time it’s a rev­e­la­tion from lawyers try­ing to help the fam­ily of Clay­ton Miller find out what re­ally hap­pened in the days be­fore his body was found near New Water­ford.

Miller was wear­ing a bright red sweater when he was found face down in an an­kle-deep stream on May 6, 1990, roughly 36 hours af­ter po­lice raided a nearby bush party in an area known lo­cally as “The Nest.”

At a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day, Hal­i­fax lawyer Ray Wag­ner played a video record­ing of an in­ter­view he con­ducted a few months ago with Bryan McDon­ald, who co-or­di­nated the search for Miller the day af­ter the party.

In the video, McDon­ald said his team had searched the area where Miller’s body was later dis­cov­ered — but their ini­tial search turned up noth­ing.

He said if there was a body in the brook, his team would have found it.

“There was no way we could miss any­thing,” said McDon­ald, who Wag­ner said was un­able to at­tend the news con­fer­ence be­cause of poor health. “There was noth­ing there.”

Wag­ner said McDon­ald wanted to reach out to the Miller fam­ily to en­sure his story was on the record.

Miller’s fam­ily has raised ques­tions over the years about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the teen’s death, say­ing they be­lieve key in­for­ma­tion was with­held from the public.

Mau­reen Miller, the teen’s mother, said the fact searchers did not see the body backs up the fam­ily’s the­ory that his body was placed in the brook.

“We knew of other peo­ple that were down there look­ing for money or liquor or what­ever, and there was no body, and no­body wants to do any­thing about it. They want to cover it up,” she said af­ter the news con­fer­ence.

“How did he get in the brook? He can’t do it on his own. Some­one put him there.”

Lawyer Kate Boyle also read sev­eral state­ments from New Water­ford res­i­dents who all said they were in the area the day af­ter the bush party and did not see Miller’s body.

Two sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions, con­ducted by Nova Sco­tia’s chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner and the prov­ince’s in­de­pen­dent po­lice watch­dog, con­cluded in 2015 that the 17-year-old was drunk when he fell into the stream while try­ing to run from po­lice.

The re­ports echoed a se­ries of ear­lier in­ves­ti­ga­tions, all of which con­cluded Miller’s death was an ac­ci­dent. The New Water­ford po­lice de­part­ment was cleared of any wrong­do­ing.

On Mon­day, the Nova Sco­tia Se­ri­ous In­ci­dent Re­sponse Team said at the time of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, there was no in­for­ma­tion that any or­ga­nized search of the area was con­ducted.

He said the unit was not in­formed about the new in­for­ma­tion col­lected by Wag­ner’s firm prior to the news con­fer­ence. The team said it would ex­am­ine the in­for­ma­tion to de­ter­mine what, if any, im­pact it would have on prior con­clu­sions.

But the unit said the new in­for­ma­tion, “does not chal­lenge the con­clu­sions reached that Clay­ton Miller did not suf­fer any in­juries that caused his death.”

Wag­ner said Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence was the first of three planned events de­signed to draw at­ten­tion to the case.

FILE PHOTO

Ger­vase and Mau­reen Miller are shown at a walk in New Water­ford where they de­manded an­swers about death of their teenage son Clay­ton, who died fol­low­ing a po­lice raid on a teen drink­ing party in 1990.

FILE PHOTO

Clay­ton Miller

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