Murder Victim, special deputy for Loudon County

Friends don't understand what led to politician's death

SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The autopsy on the man found in the trunk of a burning car this weekend is underway.

Though there's no positive id yet, family and friends say the victim is Jim Miller-- a well-known figure in Monroe County.

"He answered the phone I said, 'I need you to do me a favor.' He said, 'I'll do it. What is it?' " Bill Howe, one of Miller's lifelong friends, told Volunteer TV.

Lots of people are sharing their Jim Miller memories.
Folks call him a self-made, blue jean billionaire.

"I guess anytime somebody's successful in business, there's jealous people out there. I don't know," Howe continued.

When he wasn't working, he was into politics. He was the First District Chairman of the Republican Party and the Chairman of the Monroe County Election Commission, which was the last place he was seen.

"He left here approximately 12:30-12:40 p.m. going to his home," James Brown said.

James Brown, the administrator of elections, remembers Miller worked about three hours at the polls Saturday, before leaving around lunchtime.

His car was found around 8:00 p.m. on fire about eight miles away.

"No body ever drove that car but Jim Miller," Brown said.

Investigators are now trying to figure out what happened from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friends say they can't make sense of it.

"Wrong place at wrong time?" WVLT asked Brown.
"I don't think so," he responded.
"Did he have enemies?" We prompted again.
"I'm sure all of us in politics makes enemies," replied Brown.

"He's straight-forward and honest and you know, was very matter-of-fact," Howe told Volunteer TV, "which you know, sometimes ruffles people's feathers, I guess."

Until there are more answers, those who know Jim Miller and his family say this is an awful waiting game.

"Vickie Miller needs your prayers," Howe said fighting to keep composure.

Miller is a "special deputy," like an auxiliary officer for Loudon County.

He has a permit to carry a handgun, and his car had a radio in it but it's not clear if he called for help.