The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, September 26, 2002  

In 21st Century America

The excerpt below comes from an incredible story on page one of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “Teen Dies, Starved and Alone,” by Marc Schogol. I’m speechless.

Abused and starving, Chester Lee Miller, 18, was forced sometime this month to make a desperate 1,000-mile bus journey from the home of his mother and stepfather in Hazleton, Pa., to the Florida Panhandle, a place from which his natural father had earlier sent him packing.

Aboard the bus, in terminal after terminal, town after town, Miller said, he cried and begged strangers for help.

No one listened.

Weighing little more than 60 pounds, the famished teenager with sunken eyes finally arrived in Milton, Fla., about 20 miles north of Pensacola, only to be rejected again. There, authorities said, his relatives shut him out of their trailer home on Saturday and literally dumped him at an apartment complex.

“He looked like a Holocaust victim,” said Janice Goodman, at whose door Miller knocked, pleading again for help. “I never would have thought something like this would be in Florida or the United States.”

Goodman tried to help Miller, but he was by then beyond help.

Severely malnourished and succumbing to extensive organ failure, the youth died alone yesterday in a Florida hospital room.

His mother and stepfather, Lyda Miller, 37, and Paul Hoffman Sr., 38, who were charged earlier this week with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, face additional charges, police said last night: homicide.

And in Milton, population 7,400, the stranger who took in the dying boy nobody wanted said her family is trying to raise money for a funeral.

“We’re trying to at least let him have a decent burial,” Goodman said. “It’s the least we can do.” A relative of her family has donated a burial plot.

Believe it or not, there’s more. Read the full story.


From the Pensacola News Journal, “Starved Teen Dies Seeking His Dad”:

Goodman said Miller stayed at her home about an hour, taking a shower and a nap. She said she tried to feed him a sandwich and a Sprite, but he couldn’t take it.

Goodman called her mother, Norma Douglas, who contacted the Milton Police Department. In turn, Emergency Medical Services was notified, and Miller was taken to Santa Rosa Medical Center.

While the case plays out in court about 1,000 miles away, Goodman is trying to arrange a proper burial for Chester Miller.

“Since there are no blood relatives, we’re going to try to bury him,” she said. “We want to raise money for funeral costs. We have a family plot we are willing to put him in.”

Goodman’s mother said the family is trying to help.

“He was handicapped, and we are trying to be his family,” Douglas said. “He has no family. The family he did have killed him. We want him buried with our family.”


Three articles from the Hazleton (Pa.) Standard-Speaker:

Couple Facing Murder Charges

In a Neighborhood of Eateries, Boy Starved

Grandmother: ‘He Could Be Nasty’

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |