Ar­son killed mum and baby

A vi­cious threat by the jeal­ous part­ner of a ter­ri­fied young mum haunts her sis­ter af­ter a blaze that left three peo­ple dead. Donna-Lee Bid­dle re­ports.

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Fire was rav­aging Su­san Bruce’s farm house as she was dragged from her bed.

She saw her sis­ter’s part­ner Scott Mil­lar ly­ing in the hall­way.

Her part­ner An­thony pulled Mil­lar out through the front door.

He went back in look­ing for two other fam­ily mem­bers: Katie Bruce, 20, and her 4-month-old son Ash. But he couldn’t save them.

Fire­fight­ers found the bod­ies of Katie and Ash to­gether in a chair in the lounge.

The cause of the fire has never been re­vealed by po­lice, but a source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion says it was ar­son.

And Scott Mil­lar, 26, is the prime sus­pect.

Su­san Bruce, 28, said she had been cer­tain all along that he did it.

The fire de­stroyed her home on the Napier-Taupo high­way, about 40 kilo­me­tres east of Taupo, in the early hours of March 17.

They were left with noth­ing but old pho­tos of fam­ily mem­bers.

Bruce be­lieves the blaze started in her lounge.

‘‘When [Mil­lar] got dragged out­side, I asked him where Katie and Ash were and he said, ‘leave me, leave me, my son, my son’,’’ she said.

‘‘So I got an­gry and said, ‘where the f... is my sis­ter? What have you done?’’

A de­tec­tive told Su­san Bruce that twostroke petrol from their lawn­mower had been found and could have been used to start the fire. Mil­lar died in hos­pi­tal later that night. Katie and Mil­lar had been to­gether onand-off for five years. She left him two weeks be­fore she was killed and started to smile again, some­thing Bruce says she hadn’t done for months.

It was al­legedly an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, with Katie of­ten call­ing her sis­ter and ask­ing for help. She moved from Mil­lar’s home in Whanganui, to Bruce’s place in Taupo, just af­ter Christ­mas last year.

The door was al­ways open to her be­cause it was her home as well, Bruce says.

‘‘Frit­ter’’ was a nick­name that Bruce gave Katie be­cause she loved potato frit­ters when she was younger.

She was the youngest of 11 sib­lings, who in­cluded two step-sis­ters.

‘‘She was a lov­ing, doting aunty to my

When Bo­ogy [Ash] came along, she lit up. She was smil­ing again, she would dress nicely, she was happy. Su­san Bruce

kids,’’ Bruce said.

‘‘When Bo­ogy [Ash] came along, she lit up. She was smil­ing again, she would dress nicely, she was happy.’’

Su­san Bruce is haunted by Mil­lar’s words.

‘‘He al­ways said if he couldn’t have her, then no-one would and he’d be the first to take her out.

‘‘He told my part­ner Ants the oil heater started the fire.

‘‘When I talked to the de­tec­tive, I asked him and he said the oil heater was parked up at the end of the hall­way and not in­volved.’’

The night be­fore the fire, Su­san Bruce went to bed around 11pm and left Katie and Scott Mil­lar in the lounge. The pair had ar­gued ear­lier in the day. ‘‘I said to Katie, ‘I’m gonna go to bed, come and get me if you need me’,’’ Bruce said.

‘‘She said she would be all right but she’d text me if she needed me.

‘‘I said good­bye to her and didn’t think to say ‘I love you’ or any­thing.

‘‘When I was walk­ing down the hall­way she just had this look of ab­so­lute fear on her face.’’

Katie would have been 21 on May 23. Not only did she not ex­pe­ri­ence a birth­day with her son, she never ex­pe­ri­enced a Mother’s Day.

‘‘She was a truly amaz­ing mother. I’ve never seen a kid so well-fed. He gig­gled so much and barely cried,’’ Bruce said. ‘‘She was top notch as mother.’’

A me­dia spokesper­son for the Min­istry of Jus­tice said there was no date set for a coro­nial hear­ing into the cause of the three deaths.


Katie Bruce, 20, doted on her baby son Ash, but never lived to see a Mother’s Day. Su­san Bruce vividly re­calls the ‘‘look of ab­so­lute fear’’ on her sis­ter’s face on the night of the tragedy.

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