UPDATE 1/16/2017: Nancy Grace digs into a cold case that’s very personal to her: The murder of Chuckie Mauk. The 13-year-old boy was shot to death while riding his bike in a middle Georgia community in 1986. His mom talks to Nancy about her hope for justice decades later and the grief that won’t go away.
8 p.m.: You’re home with your family; imagine that moment, everything is quiet, dinner is done, the kitchen’s cleared away and then, a knock at your front door.
And your life is never the same.
That is what happened to Cathy Miller the night her boy, Chuckie Mauk, was murdered. And now, nearly thirty years later…still no justice. Time has passed but the pain of Chuckie’s murder has not.
Cathy Miller was standing at the sink after dinner, washing dishes when her boy, Chuckie, asked if he could go just one block away on his bike for bubble gum and candy. Worried at first because she had let him return to school that day after a cold, she made a call.
“I didn’t turn around, I kept washing dishes. I let him go for gum. I didn’t look at him. Why didn’t I turn around?” Cathy still anguishes over her innocent decision.
Not long after, there came a knock at the door she will never forget. Chuckie’s little friend was the one knocking, breathless from running to Miller’s home. He ran up the front steps to tell Chuckie’s mom that he thought Chuckie had been hurt, maybe fallen off his bike and that he was lying on the pavement, bleeding.
What could have gone wrong? Had he broken his arm? Chuckie had simply pedaled his bike less than two blocks to the neighborhood convenience store for gum and candy like he did practically every day. Mrs. Miller ran the entire way with Chuckie’s 6-year-old little brother in tow, and when she arrived from just a few short blocks away, she realized her son hadn’t simply fallen off his bike.
“There Was So Much Blood.”
At a distance, she saw her son lying sprawled on the pavement of a convenient store parking, bleeding near his bicycle. He was still holding a pack of bubble gum in his hand.
To this day, Mrs. Miller still recalls a horrible sense of dread as she ran as fast as she could, pulling her 6-year-old along with her, toward that parking lot. A crowd of onlookers congregated, and Miller was physically restrained from getting closer to save her the pain of what she would have seen. Chuckie had been killed by a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
“I could see even as I ran toward him, that he was so still. I knew his arm wasn’t broken…I knew he was dead.”
“And that’s when it all changed,” Miller said.
The shooting death of little Chuckie Mauk remains an unsolved and tragic mystery. There are very few facts to go on. At the time of the murder, witnesses insist Chuckie was on his bike just as he had told his mom, headed for gum at the local convenience store when he stopped, seemingly to answer questions from a man in his early twenties, driving a white Oldsmobile Cutlass or Buick. The conversation may have lasted up to twenty minutes, witnesses said. Then, a gunshot rang out and a white car sped around the corner.
Only a handful of people of interest have never been cleared, but with no hard evidence, there may never be a resolution.
Was Chuckie shot in the back of the head as he tried to get away from the car? Did he know his assailant? His mom insists he would never have talked to a stranger for that length of time, nearly twenty minutes. Was their some sort of argument? Did the man try and lure Chuckie into his car? Did the boy refuse?
Cathy Miller can’t remember much of her son’s funeral.
“I kept hearing a voice in my head; it sounded like my voice. It was saying ‘That’s not Chuckie in the closed coffin. That’s not my son. He’s playing right now in Mississippi, he’s not here.'”
She still suffers loss of memory around the date Chuckie was killed.
Then, there was Chuckie’s little brother. Cathy believes the then 6-year-old little brother, Gregory, suffered the same pain she did, but infinitely more. His big brother’s death made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Gregory to let himself love anyone for many, many years to come. Chuckie’s murder had “ripple effects” that she could never have imagined at the time he was killed, so many years ago.
Also, there was “the woman.” A woman approached Cathy and out of the blue, asked if she were Chuckie Mauk’s mom, to which Cathy answered, “yes,” happy that someone remembered her son. With no real knowledge of the case whatsoever, the woman coldly replied, “When parents don’t take care of a child, God brings them home.” Cathy Miller rushed from the room in tears and even now, thirty years later, her voice still cracks over the cruel words from a stranger.
What what we are left with is the untimely passing of a sweet and innocent boy, a seventh-grader who loved Pac-Man, skateboarding and playing shortstop on his Little League baseball team, the Redlegs. He was so proud to have had the highest batting average on the team, his mom still says, proudly. She also wonders who could possibly have kept such an awful secret for so many years.
“There’s a stigma attached to having a murdered child. If he had died of an illness or a car accident, it would be different,” said Cathy. “But when I tell people my little boy was murdered, they somehow blame Chuckie. I have to defend him. He was innocent…he didn’t do anything wrong. He was only in the seventh grade. He just wanted gum. Candy. That was all.”
“I go to bed with it, I wake up with it, it’s who I am. It’s just who I am”
As we talk, her voice cracks again. “I want to grieve my son, not grieve because I don’t know what happened. I brought him into this world, I was there his whole life, but I wasn’t there when he died. Did he need me? He was alone in a parking lot…a dirty parking lot with a gunshot wound that blew his face away. I know they say he died instantly, but did he? Could I have held him? I didn’t get to touch him. I just want to know. I want to ask them why…why my child?”
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