April 2, 1984 in City

Victim of slaying: She thought she was safe

The Spokesman-Review
 

Ruby M. Miller, E1504 Riverside, once told a friend: “I live in the safest place in town.”

Saturday afternoon, the 87-year-old woman was found dead in her home, the apparent victim of a beating.

Miller, whose body was found in her bed, was known as “The Cat Lady” because of her love of animals.

Police said Miller’s house had been broken into, but it couldn’t be determined if anything had been stolen. Police said they have no motive for the crime, adding that money was found in her purse.

Coroner Dexter Amend said a large pipe or tool may have been the murder weapon. An autopsy was planned today.

“I was speechless,” a saddened neighbor, Joe Brown, said today. “I just couldn’t believe it when they told me she was dead.”

Brown, W1520 Riverside, who said he had worked in Miller’s yard as a handyman the past “10 or 11 years,” said he doubted that robbery was the motive.

“She never kept hardly any money in the house. She paid nearly all her bills by check,” Brown said. “I’d bet she never had more than $10 cash. Heck, sometimes she borrowed from me when she needed some cash.”

He said Miller was unusually kind to strangers and sometimes invited them into her home to eat and other times let them sleep on her porch.

Although Miller was nearly blind, the small woman was a fast walker and loved to exercise her dog, Prince, Brown said. “I told her several times she needed a more vicious dog for a watch dog,” Brown said.

Jesse Thomas, owner of Safway Supply, E1507 Sprague, who has known Miller since 1960, described her today as “a considerate person, one who really liked people.”

Thomas said he had tried to buy Miller’s property when he purchased his present location, but said she declined to sell, saying she wanted to have a place of her own to live.

Thomas described her as a good neighbor who seemed to watch out for the businesses that grew up around her East Side home.

He said Miller once told him she felt she lived in the safest place in town.

Miller was last seen by a neighbor about 3 p.m. Friday. Police were called Saturday by a worker at a nearby firm when Miller wasn’t seen around her home, as was the custom.

Joe Montoya, who works for Safway Supply, just across Riverside from the Miller house, said she was a friendly person who always had something nice to say to the people in the commercial buildings which surrounded her frame house.

Police said the woman was known to have kept “lots of cats” at different times. Spokanimal C.A.R.E. was called to pick up three cats and a dog at the residence after the death was discovered.

Thomas said Miller liked to help people. Despite her neighborhood’s commercial setting, he added, she continued to grow vegetables and flowers in her garden each year.

Thomas said about all he knew about Miller was that she originally was from Sandpoint, Idaho, and that he believed she has a sister in Riggins, Idaho. He said he knew of no other relatives.

“She was a good neighbor. Something like this is hard to believe,” Thomas said.


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