The family of a Guelph man who went missing in a California park is marking one year since his disappearance by sharing stories and memories with loved ones.
Paul Miller has not been seen since he went out by himself on what was supposed to be a quick hike in Joshua Tree National Park on July 13, 2018.
His rental car was found at the trailhead after his wife called the park when he didn’t return to the hotel, but the 51-year-old was nowhere to be found.
Now, a year later, Stephanie Miller has had to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions without her husband.
“My anniversary was horrible — I cried all day,” she said in an interview at her home this week. “In some ways, it feels like forever; in other ways it feels like yesterday.
“Sometimes I catch myself expecting him because he’s home late from work and then you remember, but he was such a big presence that he still fills this house.”
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Without her husband of almost 30 years, Miller describes the last year as tough. But despite having no idea what happened, she’s had to try and get on with her life.
Support from friends, family and the community have helped her and her two kids in their 20s.
“I miss him constantly but you have to keep going and I’m trying to keep strong for my kids,” Miller said. “At first, I didn’t even want to go out of the house and it was just hard to see people going about normal, day-to-day things.
“But Paul would be so mad at us if we gave up. He would want us to keep living.”
Miller planned on hosting friends and family at her home on Saturday to mark one year since her husband’s disappearance.
She said it would be a good chance to exchange stories and memories of Paul.
Following the initial search that involved hundreds of people, Paul’s sister, Dawne Robinson, organized two other search parties this past year and another is planned for the fall.
“It’s helped us, I think, to go down there to look because it feels like at least we’re doing something in a situation where there’s not much you can do,” she said.
Park officials have told the family that they will never stop looking for Paul, but there are no active searches going on.
Robinson said officials are relying on reports from park visitors who find anything.
She was told park rangers receive a report about every 90 days, but so far nothing connected to her brother’s disappearance has been found.
The search being organized this year will hopefully involve search-and-rescue drone pilots who have volunteered their services. But there is red tape the family needs to cut through as drones are banned in Joshua Tree.
After a year, the frustration continues to grow.
Stephanie doesn’t believe Paul is still in the park or else something would’ve been found by now.
According to the Miller family, a report of another vehicle and a group of people also on the trail was never investigated by authorities.
There are also no security cameras at the trailhead — something that Dawne and Stephanie want to see changed.
They’re also calling on Canadian officials to urge authorities on their behalf to ramp up search efforts for Paul, whether that’s inside or outside of the park.
“We just want answers,” Miller said.