The Kalispell man who fatally shot his ex-girlfriend and her teenage daughter on Christmas Day 2010 was found unconscious in his prison cell Sunday night and later pronounced dead.
Tyler Michael Miller, 38, was serving back-to-back life sentences for the murders of Jaimi Hurlbert, 35, and Alyssa Burkett, 15. The cause of his death has not been released, pending the results of an autopsy by the state medical examiner.
According to a press release from the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, where Miller was incarcerated, prison officials found him unresponsive in his cell at approximately 9:26 p.m. on March 1. The facility’s staff administered life-saving efforts before an ambulance transported him to the Marias Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 10:34 p.m.
The Toole County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death with cooperation from the prison’s management and staff.
In February 2010, Miller was sentenced for the murders in Flathead County District Court. He avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty before trial, and was ordered to serve the life sentences consecutively and without the eligibility for parole.
Butch Hurlbert, Jaimi Hurlbert’s father and Burkett’s grandfather, said Miller’s death does little to repair the damage dealt to the family, but knowing that he can’t inflict any additional harm brings some peace of mind.
“At least I’ll never have to worry again about him escaping and coming back to finish the job,” Butch Hurlbert said. “I don’t know how he died. If he committed suicide, then it pisses me off and he’s a coward. If he was murdered, then I hope he experienced a fraction of the fear that my girls did.”
Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan said Miller was “on a methamphetamine-fed rage” when he committed the murders, and went to great lengths to ensure his crimes were not stopped. He test-fired the gun beforehand so that it would not jam and stowed it in a water-bladder compartment in his backpack.
Miller was at his mother’s home on Christmas morning, when Hurlbert had arranged to pick up her youngest daughter, who was 17 months old at the time and spent the previous night there.
Hurlbert called ahead to make sure Miller was not at the residence, and Miller’s mother, Cindy Regnier, told her he was not home.
Corrigan said Miller planned the murders “down to the finest detail” and could not be rehabilitated. Although Miller has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Corrigan said the man’s mental health should not mitigate the harshness of his sentence.
“He is a menace to society, and he’ll be a menace to society for the rest of his life,” Corrigan said.
According to charging documents, Miller told a detective after his arrest that “I probably pulled off the most evil, manipulative, pathetic thing today, but I feel good about it. I wish I felt bad. I wish to God I (expletive) felt bad, but I am (expletive) happier than hell. I prayed to God that I could pull off something like this.”
Miller’s aunt, Heather Miller-Robbins, said the family received news of her nephew’s death the morning of March 2. She said the family’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims but added that they are also mourning the loss of a family member.
“We’re mourning the Tyler we knew. The Tyler who was not addicted to drugs, the one who was clean,” she said. “Sober Tyler was not a monster.”
Justin Franz contributed reporting to this story.
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