In 1995, one single gunshot to the chest left a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department detective dead, and all these years later, the hunt to find his killer continues.
Detective Lonnie Miller was a popular police officer who stood apart from the rest of the department, thanks to his eyepatch and the celebrities who called on him to provide security when they traveled to the area. The sheriff’s office said Miller was known for his work with children in the community and he served on committees such as the local Democratic Executive Committee and the National Council of Negro Women and Associate Men.
According to First Coast News, on May 6, 1995, Miller and a few other officers responded to a burglary alarm at a friend’s business. It turned out to be false and deputies cleared the scene, but Detective Miller stayed behind to chat with his friend, business owner Abdullah Shah.
It was during that conversation that a Black male reportedly walked up behind Miller and shot him once. Shah was shot twice, but instead of calling for help immediately, Shah explained, he determined that Miller was beyond help and he needed to get himself to the hospital as soon as possible. This seemingly “odd” behavior made investigators initially suspect he might have been involved in the shooting, but Shah insists he had nothing to do with it.
“Here’s a guy going home and because he knows me, he goes and checks out my business and gets killed,” Shah said. “I should have died. Not Lonnie. He’s my hero.”
As for a motive, Shah said he ddid not believe the suspect was looking for anything of value, “If it was a robbery, why didn’t they take my money?” Shah wondered, noting that he had $400 in his pocket at the time of the incident. “If it was me they were after, they could have made sure they killed me. Maybe if I didn’t show up, maybe Lonnie still would have gotten hit.”
Over the last 20+ years, there have been few solid leads in the investigation into Miller’s murder. However, a convicted killer named Pressley Alston once allegedly confessed to killing the detective, and many still believe he could be the culprit. The problem is, Alston’s story has changed over and over – he’s confessed, recanted, blamed others, confessed again, acted as if he didn’t know a thing about the killing and now reportedly believes Miller’s death was a contract hit involving a police cover-up. Several detectives and other family members believe Alston is guilty of the crime, but prosecutors say Alston has zero credibility.
Now, the case is at a dead end and Miller’s loved ones still have no closure. If you know anything about the mysterious murder of Detective Lonnie Miller, please contact the Jacksonville County Sheriff’s Office directly.
Photo: First Coast News/Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department