Meeker Faces Up to 85 Years, $1.25M in Fines for Drugs, Murder: Meeker, Williams Charged in Death of Mariah Miller
BY NIKKI MEYER
Troy Meeker of Truman, age 51, is facing up to 85 years in prison and more than $1.25 million in fines. Meeker, along with Dominic Tercel Williams of Welcome, age 26, has been charged in relation to the August 2018 overdose death of Mariah Lynn Miller, age 24.
On Tuesday, October 16 Meeker was charged with 1st degree drugs with intent to sell and 3rd degree possession - over 10 grams after officers raided his antiques shop in Truman, finding approximately 18 grams of methamphetamine.
According to a Complaint filed by the Truman Police Department, on August 19, 2018 at approximately 9:31 a.m., law enforcement officers were dispatched to a residence on West Ciro Street, in Truman, belonging to Meeker. Meeker reported a deceased female, Miller, who Meeker stated had been staying at his residence on and off since August 9.
Meeker stated Miller borrowed his vehicle on Friday the 17th, returned the morning of the 18th and was “acting weird.” Meeker stated Miller was known to take opioids and methamphetamine, and that he believed she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Meeker stated he left his home at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. on the evening of the 18th. Miller was lying on the floor, and he handed her a sheet to cover up.
Meeker arrived home around 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and went to bed. When he woke up in the morning, around 9:00 a.m., he discovered Miller was deceased.
When officers entered Meeker’s residence, an area in the basement of the Bullseye Antiques building, owned by Meeker, they found that the area showed signs of being recently cleaned. Drug paraphernalia was found, though none used.
On August 20, Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force (MRVDTF) interviewed Dominic Williams. Williams, age 26, stated he gave Meeker a ride to Fairmont on Saturday the 18th. At the time Meeker told Williams that Miller was sick. Williams dropped Meeker off at the home of another undisclosed witness that evening. Williams said that later that night Meeker told him over the phone that Miller had died.
On August 21, agents spoke with the witness at the home Meeker had visited on Saturday after Williams dropped him off. The witness said that Meeker told her Miller was dead and he would need to dispose of her body.
Williams later indicated to the witness that he had removed all drugs from Meeker’s residence. He also stated that he and Meeker had discussed how to dispose of Miller’s body. Williams denied cleaning up anything for Meeker in a conversation with law enforcement.
On August 30 Meeker stated to the witness that he knew by 2:00 p.m. on the 18th that Miller was overdosing. He also said held Miller as she died and told Miller she was dying and that there was nothing he could do for her.
Another witness stated that Williams and Meeker were both using methamphetamine on the night of Saturday, August 18th. The witness stated that Williams instructed her to drive his vehicle to elsewhere in the county, and that later Williams and Meeker met her there. Williams told the witness that Miller had died and that they had cleaned the area and moved Miller’s body.
Another witness indicated she had a conversation with Meeker in the presence of his mother, Darla Meeker. During that conversation Meeker stated, "I killed that girl."
Authorities obtained an August 22 Facebook Messenger conversation between Meeker and his mother, in which Troy Meeker stated, "They'll arrest me for 3rd degree murder..." His mother responded with, "who cares she's just one more ****"
Meeker was known to have exchanged drugs for sexual relations.
The autopsy performed on Miller did reveal methamphetamine in her blood and a final anatomic diagnosis including methamphetamine toxicity.
Meeker was initially charged with murder in the 3rd degree and manslaughter in the 2nd degree.
Williams was charged with aiding an offender in murder in the 3rd degree and aiding an offender in manslaughter.
Then, according to an October 16 statement of probable cause, while in custody, Meeker made two phone calls to his mother, Darla Meeker. In one of the phone calls, Darla Meeker explains she had allowed two people into his antiques shop, where Miller was found. Meeker became upset and told his mother they were drug dealers and not to let anyone else in the shop. Darla stated the two people found his "toys" and brought it over to the neighbors. Meeker then told her, "There is still an ounce of f***ing dope in the place... If the cops go in with a dog they will find it in ten seconds."
The MRVDTF obtained and executed a search warrant for the building on October 12. Located on the premises were:
- Baggie containing white crystal substance
- Glass methamphetamine pipe with residue
- Container with crystal residue inside
- Canister with crystal residue inside
All of the items field tested positive for methamphetamine. Also located on the premises were various drug paraphernalia items.
Meeker has a criminal history of a felony drug sales conviction from 2011 and a felony controlled substance conviction in 2012. He also has pending drug possession/sales of methamphetamine charges in Blue Earth County from 2017.
Meeker has also admitted to selling/possessing methamphetamine at his store on Ciro St. as recently as August 2018.
Meeker appeared before the Honorable Michael Trushenski in a Martin County courtroom on October 15, 2018 for a Rule 8 Hearing regarding the charges concerning Miller's death. Williams appeared on Tuesday. Meeker will appear for a Rule 8 hearing regarding the drug charges on October 23.
If convicted on both the murder and manslaughter counts, Meeker could face up to 35 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. The two drug charges could bring an additional sentence of up to 50 years and $1.25 million in fines.
Williams could face up to 17 and a half years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
BY NIKKI MEYER
I took a trip to Granada recently. It was windy outside, and as I sat in my vehicle with the window down, the occasional sound of creaking, clanging metal could be heard—pieces of a destroyed garage wall banging against itself. The sound of life changed in a matter of moments.
I actually didn’t go to Granada for the purpose of inspecting the damage, but heading south into town on 260th Avenue revealed broken branches and naked stumps where trees once stood, and I was quickly reminded that the town had been hit by weather. Much of the mess had already been cleaned up, yet houses and outbuildings still showed signs of the high winds that swept through town. Nearly two weeks after the event, the damage, however, seemed almost minimal considering a twister had touched down. That was, until I turned onto Meagher Street.
On the south side of East Meagher Street, part of the fence surrounding the elementary playground lay in a twisted pile, orange caution tape strung around it. On the north side, a somewhat mangled boat and trailer sat in the yard of a house whose garage was missing pieces of fascia and had a crumpled downspout dangling off the visible west side. Photos online revealed the boat and trailer had been upended into the yard, against the house. Behind the house, in the football field, were damaged bleachers and a scoreboard that no longer sat on its posts. Even that damage, however, seemed minor compared to the neighbor to the east.
313 E. Meagher Street is missing. Nothing remains but a cement foundation, small front porch, and a railing where presumably steps went into the house from the garage. That, and an American flag that now stands watch over the remnants of the porch are all that indicate where the home once stood.
“That house is gone,” said John Balcom, who owns a rental house further east, on Sparks Drive. “Nobody knows where. I found a piece of it in my yard. They found the roof over at the fertilizer plant.” An entire home. Obliterated. “Thankfully she wasn’t home when it happened.”
A mailbox bearing the names Gary and Mary Shumski sits a few houses further east. Google Maps shows large, green trees surrounding the house and its neighbor. A few large bare trunks are all that remain of them. The family clearly has a sense of humor however, having taken the liberty of painting a large face and “Go Vikings” on the house’s boarded up windows.
“We’re trying to keep positive through this process,” owner Mary Shumski said with a laugh. “We are lucky. Very lucky. Timing was on our side.”
Shumski recounted the day the twister hit. “I was on the phone with a girlfriend and I was coming into Granada and I looked to the west and said, ‘Oh, we’re going to get some rain. Let’s hang up—I want to beat the rain home.’” Shumski said she barreled through town to get to her garage. She didn’t make it.
“When I got to my driveway the tornado hit.” Shumski’s driveway isn’t short. “I went and went and parked in front of my little garage, and then the back window of my vehicle blew out.” She stated she knew immediately it was a tornado. “When the window blew out, I felt relief. There must have been a lot of pressure on the vehicle and I didn’t realize it.”
Despite the explosion of glass, Shumski was able to safely get out of her vehicle and lie down. “It made my realize how fast your mind thinks,” she said of the few moments she spent on the ground. “My mind said ‘Cottonwood tree’ and my body said ‘Run.’” The family took down 13 mature trees in the wake of the funnel, one of which surely would have crushed her if she hadn’t moved.
Shumski survived the storm unharmed, though her house did not. “I used to try to explain what windows blew out and now I just say we have two left.” Still, she feels nothing but fortunate. “Had I been five second slower I would have been in front of the home that disappeared.”
Gary and Mary are now staying in a hotel while they wade through the insurance process. “When we left our residence to go to a hotel, the only thing I was concerned about was our pictures and our children’s memorabilia. Everything else can be replaced.”
On the West side of Meagher, another resident, Lori Pohlman, also faced a harrowing experience. The top of her house was ripped off, almost as though a jagged saw blade ran right across the roof line. Only the chimney and a small portion over an enclosed porch remain. Outside, a fence gate stands open in the yard, no longer attached to anything but the pole holding it up. The corn in the field behind it lies bent to the ground.
“She was home when it happened,” said Shumski. “I ran into her that night.” Amazingly, Pohlman sustained no serious injuries.
Other residents in town have taken the same view as the Shumski’s, trying to find the positives—or at least some humor—in the gloomy situation. One has a sign reading, “Made U Look,” with a face on it, and another states “Don’t Blame Trump,” perhaps a nod to those throwing shade on the president for Hurricane Florence.
The damage is extensive and the insurance process long; families will be displaced for a while. Balcom stated his renter had to move; he had worked to get her aid from the Red Cross, but the house will take some time to repair. Dan and Sheila Denton and their family are in the same situation. “We are lucky to be renting Dan’s mom’s house in Fairmont,” said Sheila. She expects it will be six to eight months before they are able to move back home.
Sheila’s husband sustained probably the worst injuries in town when their front window exploded into the house. “He ended up with about a two inch hematoma on his arm,” said Sheila, “and then he had several lacerations on his chest and on his stomach.” Dan received seven stitches as a result of the incident. He was facing the front of the home, warning his wife about a tree coming down on the house, headed straight for where she was standing in the entryway. The Dentons also lost part of the roof on the back of their home.
“You know, you walk outside and have that initial shock of, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s like a war zone out here,’” said Denton. “But then you find that all the people are accounted for and all the animals are accounted for and everyone is ok.”
It is in times of crisis that the value of living in a small town truly shines. Shumski said that after the storm, “[The community] rallied. They really rallied. It’s amazing how people are just so willing to help.” Shumski, herself a retired EMT, went out and walked her neighborhood as soon as the storm had passed, making sure no neighbors were in need of immediate assistance. Her husband made it home shortly after the storm, and friends weren’t far behind. “Many people showed up with rakes and chainsaws. Food. Water. Ice. Things just appeared. It was just so humbling.”
Denton, an emergency medical responder (EMR), also began going door to door as soon as her daughter—Truman City Administrator Bethanie Ekstrom— and son-in-law arrived and were able to take Dan to the ER. “And then Josh Kitzerow, from Truman, called me and said, ‘What do you need?’” Truman Fire and EMS was dispatched to help scout the town, with the extent of the damage and injuries unknown.
“The outpour was awesome,” said Denton. “We all live in small communities and you know people by their faces, but to call them by names and stuff—some of them you can’t.” Being on a first name basis wasn’t a requirement to give or receive help. “Nobody had to call anybody and say, ‘Hey can you come help?’ We had so much help. So many hands. Trees. Yards. The food. This is why we live where we live.”
Granada mayor Darren Maday—who lost several grain bins next to the train tracks in the middle of town—echoed Shumski’s and Denton’s sentiments. “Nobody has come forward saying they need any extra assistance. I think for the most part everybody is doing alright.” The town—bolstered by the assistance of many other local communities, and the Red Cross—is hanging together. “We’re pretty lucky.”
Even after the clean up phase has passed and life has gone back to the new normal, residents are still looking out for one another. Jill Mathiason posted on Facebook recently: Jeff was out combining in a field 3.5 miles northeast of Granada yesterday. He came across enough siding, shingles, and insulation to build a small outhouse! All from homes damaged in Thursday’s tornado. To all our friends and neighbors who sustained damage: I’m so sorry! He also found this cute little banner. If it’s yours, or you know who it belonged to in Granada, we’d love to give it back to you! (The banner reads: Welcome. May you Live well, Laugh often, Love much.)
The town may never be quite the same, but the community remains the same: strong and united.
“We’re alive. We’re here to tell about it,” Denton stated. Shumski agreed. “Life is for the living and we are alive.”
BY KATE CROWLEY ROSENBERG
Bidding for the 160-acre parcel donated by Roger W. Jones of Sperryville, VA to Truman was congenial, according to City Clerk Monte Rohman. Seven bidders were involved in early action at the auction hosted by Wingert Realty at the Truman Community Building on Friday, September 21. Two bidders ruled the action, and the final winner was Sanders Farms of Truman.
The parcel of 151 tillable acres located five miles east of Truman in Nashville township included a nine acre building site and eventually sold for $9,406 per acre, Rohman said. The total sale was just over $1.5M. It had been evaluated at $1.2M.
Rohman said the windfall opens up an opportunity for Truman to develop a new suburb on the east side of town.
"We need some new lots," Rohman said. The $400,000 infrastructure costs, including sewer, water and streets, would allow for the development of about a dozen new homes. In turn, the sale of those lots would repay most of that initial investment made possible by the Jones sale within ten years, Rohman said. He hopes the infrastructure will be in place within a year.
Other options for the Jones windfall are still on the table, Rohman said, though there has been some discussion about help ing to fund the new deck for the city pool.
"I think that remains for the Council to decide. So, at this point we just need to discuss that further," said Mayor Lynn Brownlee.
The Truman City Council agreed on Monday night to hold a work session next week to look at other projects and opportunities that may ultimately benefit directly from the Jones donation.
"We are eternally grateful for this huge gift and we all appreciate it, as does the City of Truman," Brownlee said.
According to Brownlee, Jones was a 1953 graduate of Truman High School. Brownlee said Jones approached her some time ago about making a donation to the city.
"He called me two or three years ago and was asking what kind of things, projects that Truman might have," Brownlee said. "I had no idea at the time what he was talking about. So I had mentioned that we were wanting to replace the slide down at the swimming pool, and he kind of chuckled at that. He went on to tell me what kind of donation he was considering. It was far more than what we would need for a slide."
The auction was very well managed by Wingert Realty, Brownlee and Rohman both commented. "They've been working on it for some time. That's who Roger wanted us to work with," Brownlee said.
Jones first purchased the property in the 1980s with a partner, whom he bought out in the 1990s. He made his fortune in investments and an East Coast ski resort, Brownlee said, but still returns each summer to conduct an ornithological tagging project on the American Kestrels in Martin County.
"He bands kestrels. He has all these little houses where kestrels nest, and so then he comes back every year and bands them and tracks them."
The kestrel houses are in the Truman area.
"He's made investments and he had a ski resort out east and he's just done very well in life. He's retired at this point."
Jones' father, Casey, was the long-time manager for Truman Farmers Elevator, Rohman said. His mother was Evelyn Jones.