Murder-suicide in Vernon leaves friends and family grieving

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    VERNON-A large sheet of white cardboard is folded into a triptych on the counter in the front of the Sun Station tanning salon at Vernon Crossing. In front of it burns a white barrel of a candle on a ceramic base decorated with flowers. Next to the flame is a large glass goblet stuffed with money. "In Living Memory of Linda Weaver," reads the hand-lettered title on the left side of the display. "Due to a tragic incident on Thursday, March 31st, a wonderful friend, a loyal customer and a single loving mother from Vernon was murdered and now leaves behind her 16 yr old daughter Shannon." Pam Lisa, the owner of the Sun Station and Linda Weaver's friend, made the sign. The money she collects n more than $1,000 in the first five days after Weaver's death n is going into an account to provide something for Shannon Weaver, a junior at Vernon High School, who was essentially orphaned. Weaver, 38, was murdered with a shotgun blast around noon last Thursday by her former boyfriend at his condo behind the Spa in Vernon. After killing her, Harold Miller, 47, turned the shotgun on himself and took his own life. Nearly three hours later, Kevin Detwiller, a real estate agent for Great Gorge Properties, discovered the bodies when he used his pass key to open the condo to show it to prospective buyers. That part of the story, and the stormy and abusive relationship Weaver had with Miller since 1997, has been well told in the local media, along with tales of Weaver's difficult personal life. It has outraged Lisa and Weaver's friends, who prefer to remember a woman who endured much before finally breaking off the relationship and moving out of Miller's condo last November. She had turned her life around and made a new start, they say. And then that life was stolen from her. "Linda started out being a customer of mine, but over the past three and a half years she had become much more; we were friends," said Lisa. "Over the years, I knew that she was in an abusive relationship because when she first came in with bruises and we asked her what happened, she would say that she fell. But after a while she confided in us, so I was so happy for her in November when she moved out and seemed to be getting on with her life "She had her own cleaning business and a pet-minding service and even bought her own house last year," she added. Randy Tiger of Warwick knew both the victim and the murderer and is just as shocked by what happened. "I went to school with Harry in Butler, and I have known him for over 20 years," Tiger said. "Linda used to clean my house, and when I was out with them they always seemed to be happy enough. I never had any idea he would do something like this. "This is a real tragedy and I feel very angry about the way that the media has had a total disregard for the fact that Linda had a young daughter who would have had to read what I consider irrelevant details of what may or may not have happened in the past. "Her mother was murdered, she was the victim of a terrible crime, let's not forget that and let's not forget that her child needs time to process that," he added. This sentiment is shared strongly by Lisa, who set up the make-shift shrine in her shop and started the fund for Shannon Weaver, who is now living with her grandparents in Jefferson. "Linda was a strong woman, full of life, and she had a wonderful young daughter that she was doing her best to make a better life for," Lisa said. "We really should be thinking more about Shannon, and I feel so angry that Shannon will have to deal with the ramifications of sensationalized press. She is still in school and kids can be cruel." A close friend and classmate of Shannon's at Vernon Township High School said that she was speaking for all of her friends when she said: "Linda was like a mother to each of us, each in a different way. This woman gave me a job and let me stay in her house and was nothing but a good person to me. She was murdered and all people seem to want to hear is horrible things about her."