Body found may be missing local woman
By Ronica Shannon Register News Writer
RICHMOND Family members of a missing Richmond woman fell to their knees in grief Friday after receiving news that a body found in Lake Reba near Gibson Bay Golf Course most likely was that of Tonselara B. Miller.
Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison said Friday that he could not deny that the body was not that of Miller, 56, who had been reported as missing from her Short Street home as of Friday, Feb. 26.
“I’ve talked to the family, and I’ve told them that it’s a strong possibility,” Cornelison said. “I will not 100 percent confirm it until we get autopsy reports back from Frankfort.”
A body was found in the lake shortly after 2 p.m. reportedly by a park worker, a full week after family members last spoke to Miller.
Richmond police had issued a bulletin Thursday reporting Miller’s disappearance.
Family members last reported having contact with Miller early on Feb. 26, before she left her Short Street home, and told police she had been suffering from depression and may have been on medication that caused memory loss.
Cornelison was called to the scene Friday along with Richmond police, who restricted access to the area near Gibson Bay Golf Course.
Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock was unable to comment when asked if foul play was suspected, and said an autopsy would have to be performed.
Members of Miller’s family had visited the Richmond Register on Friday to report more information about Miller and announce plans for a prayer vigil that was to be today at noon at Elizabeth Baptist Church on Elm Street.
The family, some of whom came in from Atlanta, posted flyers at several locations around Richmond and handed them out to virtually everyone they came into contact with.
“She called my mother Friday (Feb. 26) morning between 6 and 6:30 a.m.,” said Victoria Baxter, Miller’s niece. “My mom called back (later that day), and she wasn’t there,” Baxter said. “She was gone.”
Miller’s sister, Lisa Baxter of Atlanta, said she was sure that Miller had gone to People’s Bank on Feb. 26, and that she went in a cab.
“She was last seen in the cab,” Baxter said. “The cab took her from the bank, and took her to the Social Security Office (located on Gibson Bay Drive).”
However, Victoria said there was no record of Miller ever being inside the Social Security Office.
“The cab driver said he dropped her off at the Social Security Office, and he seen her go in to the Social Security Office,” she said. “At first, we thought that she might have just took some time for herself. But the hours went on and no one heard anything. That’s when people really started getting worried.”
Sunday was Miller’s youngest son’s birthday, and she did not call him on that day, Victoria Baxter said.
“When she called my mom, she had made a statement that she had been taking some sleeping medicine, and she felt like she was losing her memory,” Victoria Baxter said.
Miller could not remember her father’s funeral, “… and it was just three years ago,” she said. “She couldn’t remember things like her wedding.”
Victoria Baxter said Miller was a very generous person.
“She always gave, even if she didn’t know you,” she said.
Miller was the mother of two children, ages 24 and 31, and served as an environmentalist for the Madison County Health Department for more than 20 years. She also is noted for having started the county’s first Meals on Wheels program.
Miller’s husband, Howard Miller, serves as chaplain for the Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team, and is a former Okonite employee, family members said.
At the time of the family’s visit to the Richmond Register on Friday, they remained perplexed as to what could have happened to Miller.
“It’s seven days later and no sign of life anywhere, really makes you sit and question ‘Is there something that we don’t know?’ It’s like she just vanished with no trace of anything, no nothing,” Victoria said. “So, I just don’t know.”
Ronica Shannon can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6608.