Second suspect in Miller murder case arrested

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, September 11, 2008

Staff Writer
The second suspect in the shooting death of William Miller was arrested Tuesday in Oregon, according to information from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
Vickey Miller Babbitt was arrested on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Babbitt’s arrest came the day after George Hayden, a former Belhaven police chief, was arrested at his home on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. His arrest was made by officers or agents with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Marshals, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
Hayden remains in the Onslow County Jail without benefit of bail.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to provide information about the homicide.
At approximately 5 p.m. Pacific time, Babbitt was arrested at her house in Bend, Ore., where she resides with her current husband. Babbitt’s arrest was made Capt. Rick Sutherland with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and officers or agents with NCIS, Deschutes County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
After her arrest, Babbitt was confined to the Deschutes County Jail.
Sutherland and NCIS agents plan to remain in Deschutes County until Babbitt is released into their custody, according to the release. Once released into their custody, Babbitt will be brought to North Carolina and confined in the Onslow County Jail.
Hayden and Babbitt are charged with the murder of William Miller, who was found dead on Sept. 16, 1972, as the result of two gunshot wounds, one to the temple and one to the back. Miller’s body was found on Western Boulevard in Onslow County.
According to Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown, Hayden shot Miller with an M-16 assault rifle. Miller was coaxed to an area off of Western Boulevard by Babbitt, his wife at the time, where he was ambushed by Hayden, according to media reports.
Investigators received a break in the case on Aug. 20, when a key witness came to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with specific evidence about the case, according to the press release.
Since the new evidence was provided, the investigating agencies have worked around the clock reinterviewing witnesses and reviewing the case file of about 3,000 documents, according to the release. Agents involved in the investigation made several trips outside Onslow County and the state.
Hayden was appointed as Belhaven’s interim police chief on May 8, 2001. Hayden, a lieutenant with the department, was named interim chief after then-Chief Melvin Smith was charged that same day with two felony counts of embezzlement, two counts of willful failure to discharge his official duties and one count of making a false report to police.
The charges against Smith, 47 at the time of his arrest, were filed by the SBI.
In January 2002, Smith entered guilty pleas to modified charges.
Superior Court Judge Steve Balog of Alamance County imposed a 45-day sentence on Smith, which was suspended with one year of supervised probation. Smith also was ordered to pay a $500 fine and costs of court, and he was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service within 12 months.
In addition, Smith was ordered to pay restitution for a rifle, which was not recovered during the investigation of the case.
As the final part of the plea bargain, Smith signed an agreement with the Law Enforcement Training Standards Division to surrender his law-enforcement certification and promise that he will not apply for a law-enforcement position in the future.
Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown
Capt. Rick Sutherland “works on a lot of different projects.”