Photo by Cooper Henckel
Friends continue searching for Hannah Miller's alleged killer
Story By Cooper Henckel
Local News Published 07/30/2021 8:38PM, Last Updated 07/31/2021 3:35PM
Rhinelander - July 30 marks one month since the murder of Hannah Miller.
The shooting of a young mother made headlines across the region, but like all stories, Miller's begins before the headline.
Hannah Miller grew up in Rhinelander. Her friends remember her trademark 'Ugg boots and Columbia jacket' look, even sporting a black jacket in a Homecoming photo held by friends in front a mural put up in Miller's honor.
"She was going to my grandma's daycare," said Ali Hoffhein, a lifelong friend of Miller's. "She walked in and had this red hair and was so pale and it's just been us three ever since."
Kelly Lee, Ali Hoffhein, and Lexy Huven stayed close with Miller over the decades after graduating from high school in 2013. Shortly after moving to Minneapolis three years later, Miller met and began a relationship with Christopher Terrell Anderson, also known as "Bravo."
Friends say the relationship turned abusive after the couple were engaged, prompting a separation and Miller's return to the Northwoods in early 2020.
"This was supposed to be a fresh start for her, this apartment, moving back from Minneapolis," said Hoffhein. "She wanted to be closer to her family and friends and for all of us to know Nova, [Miller and Anderson's daughter]."
But friends say her new start took a turn for the worse before long.
"A year ago from July, he came for a visit because she wanted him and Nova to still have a relationship and he never left and this apartment turned into a hellhole for her," said Hoffhein.
In the week leading up to Miller's murder, she told friends she was finally feeling free from Anderson's influence on her life after a year of readying to make her break.
"'Aren't you worried about Chris? Aren't you scared? Don't you wonder where he is or what he's up to?' and she said, 'No. This is the most free I've felt from him in years!' So to think she felt that way and then he comes through like 72 hours later and just takes her life," said Hoffhein.
Hoffhein was helping Miller move out of her apartment leading up to June 30, 2021.
"The only things we had to finish was getting the bigger stuff out, which her family came over and helped her with on Tuesday," said Hoffhein. "Wednesday morning we were texting and she just had to grab the cable boxes and wipe off a few things."
When Seth Wakefield allegedly spotted Miller alone at the apartment complex.
"And had gone and told Chris she was at the apartment by herself," said Lee. "At that point, Chris had somebody else drive him to this location to drop him off."
Friends can only imagine what exactly happened between Wakefield's call and the discovery of Miller's body alongside River Bend Road in the Town of Pelican.
"We are thinking that after Chris got her at the apartment, he drove down here," said Hoffhein. "Maybe trying to take some back roads to her parents house to where he assumed Nova and her parents were. There were witnesses that saw them arguing on the side of this road and the car was in the middle of the road with both doors open. Then the next time someone drove by, Hannah was on the side of the road."
Wakefield's arrest July 2 brought more confusion and pain to friends than the answers they hoped for.
"I'd never heard of Seth," said Hoffhein. "I didn't know Seth. I've lived here my whole life and had no idea who he was."
Wakefield allegedly helped Anderson stalk Miller with the intention of killing her, her parents, and kidnapping Nova.
"And no amount of money makes it OK for you to decide to take a life," said Lee. "It's so unfair"
Anderson's whereabouts remain unknown.
Authorities found the PT Cruiser and Mitsubishi Outlander Anderson is believed to have taken after killing Miller on July 5 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
"I want him to answer to Nova and I think that's the real punishment," said Huven. "You will have to look at that daughter you were willing to kill for and tell her, 'I was selfish. I was stupid. I had no regard for your mother's life and I had no regard for yours and that's the punishment he deserves."
Miller's friends are continuing their search for Anderson, while finding a way to heal and keep Hannah's memory alive.
"I don't want this to get washed under," said Lee. "In a year people say, 'Oh yeah, a year ago today, that Hannah Miller girl passed.' I don't want that. I want her name to continually be out there."