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August 1, 2014

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How suspected shooters’ fresh start in Las Vegas turned dark

Online rants, friends of couple shed light on looming attack

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A screenshot from a YouTube video by Jerad Miller.

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Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller shot and killed two Metro Police officers at a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas and killed another person at a nearby Wal-Mart on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Jerad Miller Facebook Posts

Screenshot of a post from Jerad Miller's Facebook page.  Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller shot and killed two Metro Police officers at a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas and killed another person at a nearby Wal-Mart on Sunday, June 8, 2014. Launch slideshow »

In a shaky, hand-held video posted online Jan. 4, Jerad Miller drives a truck with his life packed in the back. He smiles and turns to the camera as the truck motors out of Indianapolis: "It will be our last time going through this awful city, hopefully."

Miller and his new wife, Amanda, chased a fresh start out west, leaving behind Jerad Miller's criminal past and people who disapproved of their marriage.

As the video winds down, Amanda Miller turns the camera on herself. She flashes a peace sign and says: "Vegas, baby." Six months later, Amanda Miller stood outside a Las Vegas pizza parlor with a gun in her purse.

Police say Miller and her husband went on a deadly shooting spree that left two police officers, a 31-year-old man and the Millers dead. What happened between the Miller's happy January road trip and Sunday's shooting will be unraveled by investigators in the coming days and weeks.

But interviews with people who knew the couple and the Miller's online postings reveal a portrait of a troubled man consumed by a deep hatred of the government and the woman who adored him.

In photos and videos, Jerad Miller dressed up as the Joker, the anarchic arch-nemesis of comic book hero Batman. Miller's devoted wife served as his sidekick, building her life around his and often dressing up as Harley Quinn, the Joker's twisted love interest and partner in crime.

Life in Indiana

When they arrived in Las Vegas early this year, Jerad and Amanda Miller didn't talk much about the life they'd left behind.

"They never said anything," said Larry Burnette, who lived in the same downtown Las Vegas apartment complex as the Millers for several months. "It sounded like they were from some hick town."

Details about the couple's life in Lafayette, Ind., are still scarce. The Millers' relatives in Indiana couldn't be reached for comment. Several Lafayette neighbors contacted Monday said they don't remember the Millers.

On her Facebook page, Amanda Miller said she attended Jefferson High School in Lafayette when she was still known as Amanda Woodruff. She has no known criminal history.

She began dating Jerad Miller in early 2011 and the couple married in September 2012, according to their marriage certificate.

Amanda Miller's Facebook postings were mostly mundane, from her job at Hobby Lobby to pictures of her cats to holiday celebrations with families.

Her posts also detailed her relationship with Miller and the troubles they faced.

"I know that we have been through a lot of up's and downs in that past year but we have made it through," Amanda Miller wrote on Facebook in September 2013 to mark their first anniversary. "I love this man with every inch of me and I know that some people don't like him or approve of our relationship and that's ok."

Jerad Miller acknowledged the tension on a Facebook post in January 2013: "I wish they could see me as she does. I wish they could open their eyes and wake up to reality. Until they do, they can never understand. They will blame me for her decisions. I find this very sad, how much they must hate me so."

Jerad Miller attended Kennewick High School in a southern Washington state town for one semester in 1999, according to a school district spokeswoman.

He also carried a long rap sheet with offenses in Indiana and Washington. Between 2007 and 2010, Jerad Miller was in and out of jail after being charged with criminal recklessness, marijuana possession and battery.

Miller's work history in Indiana is unclear, though he did reference having a full-time job in one video. In the same video, he acknowledged dealing marijuana.

Miller's online writings and videos portrayed a man increasingly at odds with his government.

In a post dated Jan. 30, 2013, Miller declared, "Today is day one of the resistance. … I declare that I will not acknowledge unconstitutional laws or authority figures. I am invoking the right to resist law here in Indiana. God have mercy on those who enforce these unconstitutional laws, for I will not."

Jerad Miller video - WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE

Video posted to YouTube of Jerad Miller. WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE

Although she wrote less often about any extremist views, Amanda Miller had one chilling post in May 2011: "to the people of the world. your lucky i can't kill you now, but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose and i'll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other."

The move

Amanda Miller announced the couple's move to Las Vegas in a Facebook posting dated Dec. 19. She said she was looking forward to "a new beginning" but was sad to leave her family.

The couple's first weeks in Las Vegas appeared typical of any transplant. Photos show the couple atop the Stratosphere, hiking in the mountains and standing with Kiss impersonators.

Amanda Miller transferred to a local branch of Hobby Lobby as the head of the Needlework Department, according to her Facebook page. Jerad Miller eventually took to the Strip as a costumed "Thor" character to earn money.

They made friends with neighbors in their downtown apartment complex, sharing beers with Larry Burnette. "I knew them real well," he said.

Burnette described Amanda Miller as a quiet woman inseparable from her husband. "They were about as close as you can be for husband and wife," he said. "I rarely heard any arguments between them."

Another neighbor, Kelly Fielder, described Amanda Miller as a "fun-loving female."

"Amanda was beautiful," Fielder said. "Me and her, we just watched TV. We'd watch 'Law and Order SVU,' 'King of the Hill.' She made me laugh."

But not everyone found Jerad Miller as fun-loving.

"You can't have a five-minute conversation without him talking about the government — how much he hates the government and how he wanted to do something about it," Burnette said. "He had talked about (shooting officers). I thought he was blowing off hot steam."

Burnette said the couple also seemed to be struggling financially.

In an April 19 posting on Google+, Jerad Miller said he and his wife had quit their jobs and sold all of their belongings to support rancher Cliven Bundy during his standoff with the federal government. But other militia members rebuffed Jerad Miller and sent him home because he was a felon, Miller wrote.

"How dare you ask for help and shun us dedicated patriots!_" Jerad Miller wrote online.

After the Bundy ranch trip, Burnette said, Jerad Miller seemed to change.

His anti-government fervor rose and he carried it with him when he and Amanda Miller moved in with Fielder.

While staying with Fielder, Jerad Miller talked about killing police officers and putting a swastika on their dead bodies.

"He was just talking out of the side of his neck," she said. "That's what I thought. Just talking trash."

He wasn't.

At 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jerad and Amanda Miller left Fielder's apartment for the last time. They carried a pair of backpacks, a grocery cart and a deadly mission.

The end

At 11:30 a.m., nearly seven hours and four miles later, Jared Miller walked into CiCi's Pizza on Nellis Boulevard at Stewart Avenue.

He quickly walked out. He returned moments later with Amanda Miller close behind.

Jerad Miller walked up to Officer Igor Soldo, raised a handgun and shot him in the back of the head execution style, killing him.

Jerad and Amanda Miller then turned and fired on Officer Alyn Beck. Beck tried to return fire but suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Just as Jerad Miller told Fielder, the couple dropped a swastika on Beck. He also left a "Don't Tread on Me" Revolutionary War-era flag on Beck's body.

The Millers escaped to a Wal-Mart across the street. Officers surrounded the store. Shoppers ran out.

The commotion caught the attention of Joseph Robert Wilcox, who was standing in a nearby checkout line. Wilcox, carrying a concealed weapon, approached Jerad Miller. He didn't know Jerad Miller wasn't alone. As Wilcox passed by, Amanda Miller shot him in the chest, killing him.

The Millers collected items from the store and built a defensive position.

As two SWAT teams closed in on them, the fresh start the Millers had dreamed of in Las Vegas neared an end.

Amanda Miller, who had celebrated her Las Vegas move with a peace sign just six months earlier, shot and killed her husband. Then she fired a bullet into her own head.

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