Indiana woman reported missing in 1974, found living in Texas

Indiana State Police reported Thursday that a woman reported missing from her home in Laurel, Indiana, in 1974, has been living under an alias in a small South Texas town since the 1990s.

According to a Nixle release from the Indiana State Police-Pendleton District 51,  shortly after giving birth to her third child in 1974, Lula Ann Gillespie-Miller, who was then 28 years old, thought she was too young to be a mother at the time.  She signed custodial rights of her children to her parents in Laurel and left home, never to be seen again by her family.

Det. Sgt. Scott Jarvis was assigned to the case in January 2014, after the Doe Network, a website that helps families with missing person investigations, contacted Indiana State Police in Pendleton. The site told officers that they had been in contact with Gillespie-Miller’s family. The family told someone at the site that the last contact they had with Gillespie-Miller was a letter they received from her that was postmarked in Richmond, Indiana, in 1975.

Jarvis checked Richmond Police Department records division and discovered there was a case of a dead, unidentified female found in 1975, who was buried in an unmarked grave in the Earlham Cemetery in Richmond. A search warrant was obtained in December, 2014, to exhumed the body from the grave for DNA analysis. A DNA sample was also obtained from Gillespie-Miller’s biological daughter, Tammy Miller, for comparison.

Additionally, the sample taken from Miller was entered into a national database for missing persons, but no match was found. While he was waiting for the analysis on the unidentified body, the investigation took Jarvis in a different direction.

He started investigating the trail of a woman with similarities to Gillespie-Miller, who had lived in Tennessee in the 1980s, then later in Texas. After more investigation, Jarvis found a woman living in a small South Texas town since the 1990s, was possibly still living under an alias.

On Thursday, Jarvis contacted the Texas Rangers in the woman’s area and asked them to go to the woman’s residence. She admitted to the Texas Rangers that her name is Lula Gillespie-Miller, now 69 years old, and she is originally from Laurel, Indiana. Gillespie-Miller did not commit a crime by leaving her home in 1974, and State Police said she still reserves the right to remain anonymous.

Even though Gillespie-Miller didn’t offer an explanation as to why she left her Indiana life behind in 1974, she gave Jarvis consent for her contact information to be given to her daughter.

The release said, “Thanks to the hard work of Indiana State Police Detective Sergeant Scott Jarvis, this Easter weekend, Tammy Miller hopes to make contact with the mother she has never known.”

The town where Gillespie-Miller was located was not given by authorities.