LIMA — When detectives were working hard to try to identify Lima’s mystery woman sitting in jail refusing to tell them who she really was they were sure of one thing: she was wanted somewhere.
The hunch proved to be true. The woman, identified as 40-year-old Ann Marie Miller, was wanted in at least one other state on a number of charges, including serious felony offenses. She’s facing prison, probably as good a reason for anyone to try to go into hiding and establish a new identity.
But the work of local detectives interrupted her grand plan, of which detectives still do not know every detail. Sheriff Sam Crish said he believes the former Virginia attorney was trying to establish a new identification to restart her life.
“I think she was hoping to go back to law school under Julia Wadsworth and forget about Ann Marie Miller. She didn’t say that but looking at the whole facts she didn’t want to be found,” Crish said.
That plan is what landed her in trouble in Ohio.
Her plan seems to have started when she was in Florida a year ago taking care of an elderly man. She researched the requirements in each state to obtain a birth certificate. After determining it likely would be easiest in Maine, she took a bus ride to that state taking along the man she for whom she was caring.
Along the way his health turned worse and she left him in a hospital in Boston. She called his family to get him. He later died and she met up with another family in Florida who had a 95-year-old mother living in Lima. Miller agreed to care for the woman in exchange for a place to stay and arrived in Lima sometime early this year.
Once in Ohio, Miller began her plan to obtain a state identification card under the name Julia Bay Wadsworth. It turned out to be her downfall when she couldn’t produce a Social Security number but somehow convinced a clerk to issue the card, anyway.
Soon after, an investigation began and detectives were at her door to question her. The case that seemed strange early on took an even stranger turn when they found out she somehow destroyed her fingerprints, possibly by using a chemical to burn off the ridges that form prints, Crish said.
“As of right now, she has no fingerprints. I don’t know if she ever will,” he said.
After weeks of being unable to identify Miller, detectives asked The Lima News to publish a story and photos on her to see if anyone recognized her. A photo taken by The Lima News that ran with a story in Florida newspapers led to someone identifying her earlier this month and Miller soon admitted her true identity, Crish said.
Now, her case is in the court system on one count of tampering with records, a third-degree felony. She has pleaded not guilty. But Miller could face additional charges, such as registering to vote under a false name.
After her case is complete in Ohio and she serves her sentence, officials in Colorado have filed legal documents to have Miller transferred to that state to stand trial. She is facing more than 40 years in prison.
In Denver, Miller is charged with three counts of theft, attempt to influence a public servant, two counts of forgery, four counts of offering a false instrument for recording in the first degree, conspiracy to commit theft, conspiracy to commit offering a false instrument for recording in the first degree, conspiracy to commit forgery, and conspiracy to commit attempt to influence a public servant.
The conspiracy charges were filed because officials believe Miller had a partner in the crimes. The charges accuse her and a man of stealing real estate property from elderly people by forging documents and filing false documents with public offices to facilitate the thefts. The homes were worth more than $100,000, according to court records.
One theft was discovered when the family of a 76-year-old man who had dementia died. The family attempted to sell the home and discovered someone had placed it into Jack Gould’s name, Miller’s co-defendant. Records for legal transactions were sent to a post office box Miller obtained in her name, which led investigators to her, according to court records.
Authorities also learned Miller fraudulently obtained the property of a deceased couple in Colorado with plans to profit off it. Their son-in-law discovered the plan and alerted authorities, according to records.
Gould is a convicted sex offender who was on parole for sexual assault and kidnapping at the time. Investigators also learned Miller was a disbarred attorney from Virginia.
Denver court records showed Miller had a mound of debt. She filed bankruptcy in Wyoming in April 2013 listing $275,516 in assets and $572,661 in liabilities.
Gould was interviewed in prison and told a detective he met Miller while he was in prison, they became good friends and eventually married. Miller was working for a marijuana dispensary in Denver when he was released, according to records.
Gould told the detective he had no involvement in the property thefts and blamed Miller for everything, according to records.
Path to destruction
To try to understand what happened to Miller requires following her trail back to Virginia. She seemed to have a promising life but that would soon change. She became a lawyer in 2007 after graduating law school, mainly handling bankruptcy cases.
Her life then took an extraordinary turn shortly after. By 2009, she lost her license for neglecting cases for clients, missed deadlines to file legal documents, and failed to return money to clients she owed, according to Virginia court records.
Sometime in that time frame she was involved in a relationship with another attorney who left her for a paralegal. Local detectives said it appears Miller spun out of control after that. She was involved in various crimes in Roanoke, Virginia, including an alleged assault against the paralegal who Miller’s former boyfriend married, local investigators said.
Virginia has dropped the charges and it appears authorities in that state are not going to refile or seek Miller’s return to stand trial, Crish said.
It’s also possible Miller could faces charges in other states such as Maine, where she obtained her fake birth certificate, or Florida, where she also registered to vote, but that would only be if officials in those states choose, which they may not because she’s facing a lengthy prison sentence in Colorado.
In the meantime, Miller’s case in Lima has yet to play out, and likely will include additional charges. Crish said she is spending her days sitting in jail and has even suggested to Crish she wants to tell her story on national television or write a book. Crish surmises she wants to profit or be famous.
The “Dr. Phil” show contacted Crish on possibly doing an interview but Crish hasn’t heard back from officials from that show, he said.
Crish said Miller seems enamored with the notion she could be famous around the country for her crimes.
The sheriff said the better word would be infamous and people should not forget there are victims of crimes who have been hurt by her actions.
“She has allegedly done so much, even with crimes against the elderly, and the list goes on and on. That’s what they need to focus on is the types of crimes she’s been involved in and how many victims,” Crish said.
Miller declined a request to be interviewed.
Crish does not want people viewing Miller as a folk hero of sorts. He said she should be viewed as a criminal who hurt people.
“There’s people who commit crimes every day and she’s no exception,” he said.