Josh Miller is kind-hearted and a motivated hard worker and his friends are desperately searching for him.
“He is a really good guy,” said sailing pal Simon Rees, who met Miller in sea cadets.
“A good friend for sure.”
Tuesday, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) asked residents in the area of Blue Puttee Drive and Stavanger Drive in east end St. John’s to check their properties for any signs of the missing 20-year-old.
Miller was last seen early Friday morning when he reportedly got out of a cab in the area.
Based on accounts of some of his friends who spoke to The Telegram, including one who was with him on the Thursday night-Friday morning outing, there was an unfortunate set of circumstances and a George Street altercation, that, despite all good intentions, led to things going awry.
The RNC criminal investigation division, mounted unit, K-9 unit and Rovers Ground Search and Rescue are still actively searching for Miller since his reported disappearance. There was also a helicopter on the scene Tuesday.
On Sunday, the RNC received a missing person report concerning Miller. He is described as being 5’9” and 175 pounds. He has short, sandy-coloured hair and blue eyes.
At the time of his disappearance he was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, according to police.
“It has been quite cold the last few nights,” RNC spokeswoman Const. Talia Murphy told media outside RNC headquarters Tuesday, while noting Saturday’s snowstorm.
“Given his attire at the time, we are concerned for his safety,” Murphy said.
Police weren’t saying much publicly about the circumstances surrounding Miller’s disappearance.
Longtime friend Brad Roche, who has led searches for Miller after the official police search ends at dark, said Miller was involved in an altercation outside the Sundance bar on George Street before he went missing. Roche also said Miller earlier had a fight with his girlfriend and was upset as it seemed to be the first serious relationship he’d had as a young man.
But by all accounts Miller had a lot going for him, hoped to join the RNC one day and worked two jobs — one at a bar, another at a home improvement store — to fund his university studies and pay for his recently acquired car.
“Everything he had, he done it himself,” said Roche, who also knew Miller from cadets and worked with him at the Martini Bar until Roche moved on about a month ago.
But they remained close friends and Roche was supposed to meet up with Miller and friends that Thursday night downtown.
Close to foster parents
Roche said his friend remained in the home of his foster parents and they were closer than many blood families are.
“Josh never refers to them by their first names. It’s always mom and dad,” Roche said.
Miller had a hard-luck background with his biological family, but things were really turning around for him, Roche said, adding Roche’s marks were up.
“He’s the happiest he’s been in years,” he said.
And all his friends — The Telegram spoke to several Tuesday — say it was not at all like Miller to ever not show up for work — he was due to work Friday and Saturday nights at the bar. And if for some reason he couldn’t make it, he’d call.
Roche said the account he got about Thursday night-early Friday morning was that Miller bumped into another guy in the Sundance. But he said nowadays, the bar atmosphere is such it doesn’t end simply at that.
“You bump into someone like you will in a packed club and everyone thinks they are tough,” Roche said.
“There is no such thing as going downtown and having a casual night.”
Kyle St. Croix, who worked with Miller as bouncers at the Martini Bar, was with him that night, along with two other friends.
He isn’t exactly sure how the altercation started but, according to St. Croix, it broke out on the Sundance dance floor and Miller got kicked out.
He was upset over the incident and drunk, St. Croix said, adding he and his friends tried to calm him down outside. He was put to the ground briefly to settle him. But that’s when things went awry. The guy he was in the racket with inside the bar ran over and kicked Miller in the head, St. Croix said.
“It was a solid kick to the head,”
St. Croix said, adding it’s believed that the other guy had a knife and they feared he had intent to do real harm to Miller.
So it was decided the two friends would put him in a cab, while St. Croix held off the group of guys who were after Miller.
St. Croix said his other two friends got cut in the altercation with the other guy and St. Croix said the trio stayed behind to file a police report.
Meantime he said they thought that Miller would go home and sleep it off.
Sometimes stayed with friends
Roche said Miller’s habit, when out late was usually to go to a friend’s place instead of his foster home because he didn’t want to disturb anyone.
St. Croix lives in the Stavanger Drive area and said if Miller was going to his place, his doors were locked. He said Miller had a blazer and dress shirt on over a T-shirt and jeans, but when he got in the cab, the shirt and blazer were gone.
“The issue is he probably wasn’t thinking straight,” said St. Croix, who suspects now that Miller could have had a concussion from the kick in the head. “I look back at the situation and so many things had to add up for this to happen.”
St. Croix said when Miller didn’t turn up Friday at work, friends thought he was ashamed of the night’s events, although it was unlike him not to turn up for work.
“I haven’t slept in days. … Everyone did what they were supposed to do,” he said, noting the protocol of putting a friend in cab when he needs to go home.
Roche said the cab driver is claiming Miller hopped out of the cab without paying and went into the woods, something friends also say is hard to believe.
“He’s just not that type of guy,” said Roche.
For one, Miller wanted to get in the RNC and wouldn’t jeopardize his chances with such an act, friends say.
For another, if he was short of cash, he would usually instruct a driver to take him to a bank machine.
“Him skipping out on a cab, that doesn’t sound like him at all,” friend Alexandria Boyd said.
Miller apparently left his cellphone behind in the cab.
Roche and other friends say Miller, if he was upset, would sometimes go off and stay with a buddy for awhile, but always acknowledged where he was.
Some of his friends are holding out hope that’s exactly what happened, even speculating he might be a bit embarrassed now because of the search efforts. But even so, they say it wouldn’t be like him to not come forward if he knew what was going on.
Since finding out Miller was missing Sunday, Roche has led as many as 30 people out at night looking for Miller, beating every path for signs of his friend. He planned to go out again Tuesday night with more than a dozen helpers. But still, he’s dreading being the one who stumbles on his friend, if he’s perished.
“We’re after going crazy the last few days looking,” Roche said.
“We all have the same goal in the end,” said another pal, Chris Duke.
Boyd last saw Miller last week when he dropped into the Second Cup on Stavanger Drive where she works for his usual order — a frozen hot chocolate. His visits always made her workday.
“It’s a complete shock. Josh is so sweet, the most gentle-hearted person ever. He just wants to make you feel better when you are having an upset day,” she said.
“I don’t even know what to think. … Everybody is really hoping he’s at somebody’s house. It’s scary. … I just want him to come home.”
Barbara Silveira, like others, described Miller as happy-go-lucky. She also used to work with him at the bar.
“He would just do anything to help anyone out, lend an ear,” she said.
“Many times at the end of the night, he’d give me a drive home.”
“He looks after everybody,” Crystal Parsons said.
“He is an amazing guy. Super fun and a really great friend,” said Erika Eason, who regrets losing touch with him lately.
“All his friends and family are worried about him and we just want him to come home safe.”
Simon Rees describes Miller as a good sailer — they have worked together summers on the race committee at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club.
“I got to say it’s really nerve-wracking,” Rees said of Miller’s disappearance. “I haven’t been sleeping very well. Everyone is still confused and shocked by it.”
Anyone who has any information pertaining to the whereabouts of Joshua Miller is asked to contact the RNC at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can provide information anonymously on the NL Crime Stoppers Website at www.nlcrimestoppers.com.