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New witness account gives family hope in ’90s death of teen Clayton Miller

WATCH: A new development in the 27 year old death of Clayton Miller was announced on Monday. Dave Squires reports.

Twenty-seven years after Clayton Miller’s body was found in a New Waterford brook, lawyers for the family of the Nova Scotia teenager say a new witness account continues to raise questions into Miller’s death.

At a press conference on Monday, Ray Wagner, the family’s lawyer played a video of an interview with former Cape Breton Search and Rescue co-ordinator Bryan McDonald who conducted the search for Miller at the time of his death.

In the video, McDonald says he and his team searched the day before in the area Miller’s body was found but didn’t find anything.

“I was upset because there was no way they were making us look like we’re lying. Like we just did a search there, and there was no body and all of a sudden, police officers walk up and get out of their police car and there’s the body laying there,” said McDonald in the video.

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READ MORE: Family still searching for answers nearly 3 decades after Clayton Miller’s death

Clayton’s mother, Maureen Miller says this new witness account backs up their belief that Clayton’s body was moved.

“It kind of tells us what we’ve been saying all along. We’re right. Clayton wasn’t in the brook. We know from the medical reports he died late Friday night, Saturday morning. So how did he get in the brook? Who put him there?” said Miller.

Past Investigations

Over the years, Miller’s family has raised questions about the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death, saying they believe key information was withheld from the public.

Two investigations – conducted by Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner and SiRT, the province’s independent police watchdog – concluded in 2015 that the 17-year-old was drunk when he fell into a stream in New Waterford while trying to run from police, who had raided a nearby bush party on May 4, 1990.

The Millers have never accepted the conclusions reached by two separate investigations; that Clayton’s death was an accident. They have previously stated that they believe the New Waterford Police were somehow involved.

Doctors had come to differing conclusions about the cause of his death and a subsequent inquest and RCMP investigation both cleared the New Waterford Police Department of any wrongdoing.

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READ MORE: Lawyers to reveal ‘major development’ in decades-old death of Nova Scotia teen

SiRT response

SiRT investigated the death of Clayton and released a statement after the press conference.

They say that all of the information disclosed at the press conference was not made available to the medical examiner, SiRT or any other law enforcement agency.

As a result, Ron MacDonald, the director of SiRT says they have had no way to test the “reliability or veracity of the information,” and that the new information doesn’t challenge their conclusions.

“In the significant work done on this matter by SiRT in 2014 and 2015, and by police over the 25 years previously, there was no information that any organized search of the area was conducted at that time,” wrote Miller. “Mrs. Miller indicated to the media that the Scotchtown Fire Department had conducted such a search. SiRT followed up on those comments and was told by the fire department in New Waterford that no such search was conducted.”

SiRT aded that they’ll examine the information presented by the Millers.

“Our findings will be released as soon as practicable,” wrote MacDonald.

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Still fighting and looking for answers

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“My son is worth it. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I didn’t fight for him,” said Maureen.
Clayton’s father, Gervase says more evidence will come to light.
“We have to be careful with what we say because we know a lot more.”

Independent Investigation

The Miller family lawyers believe this new witness account from the former search and rescue co-ordinator at the time backs up their story and furthers a possible new investigation.

“We have search and rescue now that has added to that body of evidence that has to ask a very important question. And the question is, ‘Where was Clayton Miller on May 5, 1990?” said Wagner.
Wagner and family hope that an independent investigation “outside the province” will one day reveal what actually happened to Clayton Miller.