PLATTE CITY, Mo. - A Missouri man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing two sisters from Platte County.
Tuesday, 32-year-old Clifford Miller pleaded guilty on two counts of first degree murder.
He admitted beating and suffocating 22-year-old Ashley Key and 19-year-old Britny Haarup and dumping their bodies near Edgerton, Mo. on July 13, 2012.
Family members of the victims, as well as Miller’s family, were packed in the Platte County courtroom and heard the gruesome details.
“The wounds from this will never heal ... the pain will never cease,” Britny and Ashley’s Father, Paul Arthur Haarup said in front of a packed courtroom before the sentencing.
Paul Haarup also focused on the good memories and the hopes and dreams the two young mothers had before they were taken away from them.
“All we have now are memories,” Haarup said.
Britny wanted to be a nurse. Ashley loved music and art.
“We will not let the thoughts of the person who brutally murdered them darken our happy memories,” Haarup said.
Miller admitted to police and the judge that on July 13, he was high on meth when he went to Britny's Edgerton home to rape her.
Ashley was sleeping inside the front room and took him by surprise, so he hit her over the head and smothered her with a pillow. He also said it took several minutes before Ashley stopped moving.
Miller then confessed he sat in the room with her body, smoked more meth and thought about what he needed to do next.
“He located a piece of wood in the front of the house, took that piece of wood into Britny’s bedroom where she was sleeping,” Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said.
Zahnd said Britny sat up in bed and Miller struck her and smothered her with a pillow like he had done to Ashley.
"After that, he told authorities he wanted to still have sex with her; he claims he was unable to do that, although DNA at the scene revealed the defendant’s DNA," Zahnd said.
Miller stole a white Dodge truck and guns from the home, put the bodies in the bed of the truck and dumped them at 7575 County Line Rd.
When Britny’s fiancée came home from work to find the girls gone and Britny’s two children in the same crib, he called 911 to report them missing.
A massive search involving Platte County, Clinton County and Clay County Sheriff’s departments, as well as Parkville police, several Missouri park rangers and the Missouri Highway patrol led to the discovery of the stolen Dodge truck near Trimble. Authorities then found Miller at his girlfriend’s home in Parkville, Mo.
While in custody, Miller confessed to what he had done.
Zahnd said Miller even admitted he would have killed more people to get money to get away. After he dumped the bodies and guns, he hid in a family’s barn and thought about robbing them, but saw their young son and did not go through with it.
Zahnd added however, at one point while Miller was at Britny’s home in Edgerton, he saw one of her two children in her room and moved her into the crib with the other child after he struck her.
Now Britny and Ashley's family must raise three children, whose mothers were taken from them by Miller.
“As these girls grow, the question won't be how this happened, it will be why," Haarup said. “And we don't have a good answer.”
The grandmother who now cares for Ashley's daughter said the 5-year-old girl still remembers her mother and sleeps with a picture of her by her bed.
“Britny and Ashley were two beautiful young ladies with plans of the future and so many hopes and dreams. They were dearly loved by their family and we hold onto their laughter that will never be heard again and the warmth and love of their hugs that will never be felt again."
The Platte County Prosecutor said Miller was eligible for the death penalty, but after talking to the family about how long that process can take in court, they all decided to go with life in prison and get this over with.
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