Coroner: Kalispell Double Murderer Committed Suicide by Suffocation

Tyler Michael Miller found dead in his prison cell March 1 while serving back-to-back life sentences

By Tristan Scott

The Kalispell man serving back-to-back life sentences for the chillingly calculated Christmas Day 2010 murders of his ex-girlfriend and her teenage daughter suffocated himself to death in prison on March 1, according to the Toole County Coroner.

Tyler Michael Miller, 38, was convicted of two counts of deliberate homicide in the brutal shooting deaths of Jaimi Hurlbert, 35, and Alyssa Burkett, 15. He was found dead the night of March 1 in a prison cell at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby.

According to Toole County Coroner Dan Whitted, the cause of Miller’s death was suffocation and the manner was suicide.

“He was in a cell by himself and managed to rig something up and tighten something around his face and suffocate himself,” Whitted said. “They were checking on him every half-hour, but he managed to do it. They did CPR all the way to the hospital and couldn’t revive him.”

According to a press release from the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, 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 and an ambulance transported him to the Marias Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 10:34 p.m.

In February 2012, 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.

More than 1,000 people attended the funeral for Hurlbert and Burkett, and on Monday members of the community reacted strongly to news of Miller’s death, posting messages on social media sites expressing satisfaction that he was gone and stating that his death brought some closure to the murders, which shocked the Flathead Valley.

Miller’s family reacted somberly, gathering to remember a man they say was transformed by drug abuse.

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.”

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 had 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.

Miller was waiting when the pair arrived, however, and shot them dead in the driveway.

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.”

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