Three guilty of charges in IW campground case

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By Gwen Albers

The Tidewater News

An Isle of Wight County judge found three adults guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery for strapping a 15-year-old girl to a tree and throwing eggs and dumping beer on her at a Zuni-area campground.

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Loretta L. Miller, 48, and Randel Miller, 47, who are the victim’s guardians, and Ross Renicker, 48, still face felony charges of abduction after Judge Alfreda Talton-Harris during a Monday preliminary hearing determined there was enough evidence for a grand jury to hear the case. The other suspect, Margaret Allen, 46, had her case continued after her attorney could not make it to court.

According to a criminal complaint, Randel Miller put eggs in the girl’s shirt and shoved her against the tree, cracking the eggs on April 27 at Big Bear Family Campground off Whispering Pines Trail. Loretta Miller poured two bottles of beer over the teen and Allen sprayed her in the face with a hose.

Also according to the complaint, both women admitted to the incident during the investigation, claiming it was all in fun.

Someone reported the incident to the county’s Department of Social Services, which accompanied the Sheriff’s Office to the campground, where the couples lived. Deputies were told the girl had been tied to a tree using ratchet straps, which are normally nylon and used to tie down cargo, according to the complaint.

The judge closed the hearing to the media at the request of prosecutor Steve Edwards.

Generally, when an adult’s case is heard in court, the media is allowed in the courtroom, said Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Georgette Phillips. A motion can be filed to close the hearing at the judge’s discretion.

“I used to prosecute for juvenile and domestic relations,” Phillips said. “To close (a hearing) would have to be requested.”