A perfect, stranger-than-fiction horror story for Halloween season.
In 1994, Judge Allan Davis of Hancock County Probate Court ruled that Donald Eugene Miller was legally dead, eight years after he disappeared from his Arcadia rental home. Miller was last reported in Arcadia around 1986.
But then Miller showed up last Monday before the same judge, requesting that the court reverse its 1994 death ruling so that he can reinstate his canceled Social Security number and driver’s license.
Miller, 61, said he was an alcoholic who was unsure what to do after losing his job. He briefly worked odd jobs in Atlanta and Marathon, Fla., after leaving Ohio sometime before 1990. His parents informed him of his “death” upon his return to Ohio in about 2005, he said.
Miller’s ex-wife, Robin Miller, had asked for the death ruling so Social Security death benefits could be paid to their two children. Miller told Judge Davis he neither sought alcohol treatment nor contacted his children in the time after he left.
Robin Miller declined to testify on Monday, but stated after the court hearing that Donald Miller left the state with hefty child support bills. He was scared of a jail term, she said. He owed about $26,000 in overdue child support by 1994, she has said.
Judge Davis acknowledged that Miller was before him apparently in good health. But the judge ruled that Miller is still dead, in the eyes of the law. The judge held that Miller’s request for a reversal came well after the three-year legal limit for changing a death ruling.
“I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Davis said.