A crime scene investigator from the Platte County Sheriff's Dept.… (Rich Sugg / The Kansas City…)
When Matt Meyers got home from work Friday afternoon in the small town of Edgerton, Mo., just north of Kansas City, he immediately knew something was wrong.
His fiancée, Britny Haarup, 19, and her sister, Ashley Key, 22, who had been staying at the house, were both gone. His 6-month-old and 18-month-old daughters were there alone, and a truck and some guns were missing.
On Sunday night, a weekend-long search for the missing women ended with the discovery of their bodies on a farm -- and a gruesome confession that has prompted prosecutors to file first-degree murder charges against the man arrested in the case.
The suspect, Clifford D. Miller, 31, of Trimble, Mo., had gotten high on meth Friday morning and decided he wanted to have sex with Haarup, whom he had liked but with whom he'd never slept, according to law enforcement authorities.
But when he arrived at Haarup’s house and walked in the front door, he woke up Key, who was sleeping on the couch, the officials said. Key confronted Miller, and he decided he had to get rid of her, they said.
“He began to punch her and beat her until she quit moving and then he smothered her with a pillow,” Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson said in a televised news conference on Monday, taking a long pause before continuing. “After Miller killed Ashley [Key], his intention of sexually assaulting [Haarup] then changed to an intent to kill her. He picked up an object and walked into the bedroom.”
There, Anderson said, he found Haarup sleeping with one of the babies. After Miller hit her in the head, he and Haarup struggled for a bit before he also smothered her to death. He then tried to sexually assault her, authorities said.
Miller next took the baby to the room where the other baby was sleeping, smoked more meth and tried to clean up the crime scene, officials said.
He placed the women's bodies in their truck out back and then hid the bodies on a farm, police said. He also attempted to get a friend to sell the guns for getaway money.
Miller was arrested Sunday morning at his girlfriend’s apartment in Parkville, Mo., after someone who'd seen him driving around in the missing truck tipped off the police.
The women's father also spoke at the Monday news conference.
“My daughters, [Ashley Key, who also had a 4-year-old daughter] and [Britny Haarup], were very wonderful people,” Paul Haarup said. “Their short lives are not going to be forgotten. Because of this situation, we are sentenced to life in our duty that the daughters left behind are aware of how special their mothers were. They’re never going to have a chance to see their mothers smile in person.”
Paul Haarup wore black at the news conference but said he wouldn't continue to do so.
“From this day on, none of us are going to wear black — not at any memorial service, not at any funeral, because we are not going to mourn,” Haarup said.
He added, “Wear every color you got.”
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said he would evaluate whether to seek the death penalty under Missouri's murder statutes; the alternative is life in prison.
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