Unanswered Questions About Heath Miller's Shooting of an Armed Intruder
A year after his death, many unanswered questions remain about the night Robert Rashard Tomlin broke into band teacher Heath Miller's Wellington home, wielding a .40-caliber gun.
Miller said he defended himself by firing a .38-caliber revolver at the masked intruder. A Palm Beach County sheriff's incident report says Miller, 35, shot Tomlin, 22, twice -- once in the thigh, once in the heart.
But witnesses and neighbors said they heard five to six shots exchanged. And Miller told a Palm Beach County schools police detective, "A man took six shots at
me, and I killed him."
The numbers don't add up. How could Tomlin do all the shooting, if Miller and his wife were uninjured, while Tomlin died from a bullet in his heart?
To make matters even more confusing, crime-scene investigators found evidence of a serious shootout. There were 19 bullet holes -- or "defects," as they are called -- pockmarking the walls, doors, windows, and ceiling in Miller's home.
Who shot first, and how many times? Miller's wife, Mirelle, hid under the bed as the gunfight ensued. She later told sheriff's deputies that Tomlin fired first, but Heath said he wasn't certain.
To clear up some of these questions, New Times requested a copy of Tomlin's autopsy report. But the Palm Beach County medical examiner's office refused to release it, citing an ongoing investigation.
"The records you have requested on Robert Tomlin have not been cleared for release by the Investigating Agency or the State Attorney's Office and are currently exempt from release," says a letter from the examiner's office.
This is odd, because the Palm Beach County state attorney's office has no record of a homicide case against Miller. No charges were ever filed against him in the shooting. The sheriff's report called it "Justifiable circumstances: felon killed by a private citizen."
So why is the case still open? Sheriff's deputies had been looking for a link between the shooting and the allegations, which surfaced two months later, that Miller sexually assaulted students at H.L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens. But according to the sheriff's report, they never found a connection between the two cases.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.