Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Profile of Tim Miller and Texas EquuSearch

Strength in Numbers

Since the search for missing persons comes under the jurisdiction of local police departments, especially when foul play is suspected, Miller is always cautious, because the potential is high that the officials who are paid to do this work may be insulted if he goes back over their ground. Yet even with their best efforts and resources, sometimes the official searchers do miss bodies.

"We came into a search in Austin for a man named Henry," Miller says. "They'd found his car abandoned and he'd been missing for six days." TES was invited in and Miller had mapped a dozen areas that he believed ought to be searched. The officials had used cadaver dogs to target one area for a SWAT team, which they wanted to keep for themselves, so Miller said that was fine; he had other areas on which to focus. The officials spent two hours and then "cleared" the area. They had found nothing.

Searcher with dog
Searcher with dog

But Miller wasn't satisfied. Two hours wasn't sufficient time to do a thorough search, even with dogs. He asked if he could send in his team to the same area, telling the officer in charge that since they had more people, luck might be on their side. The officer gave him permission but believed he was wasting the team's time. He was wrong. It took only ten minutes before the TES volunteers found the body, leaning against a building in plain sight. The cadaver dogs had been with six feet of it but had not picked up the scent.

"Our strength lies in numbers," says Miller. "The more people you have out there, the better chance that someone is going to see something."

Before describing another search, let's look at what being a volunteer involves.

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