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'No happy ending' after missing mom is found

Posted: 8:16 PM, Mar 24, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-28 22:27:13Z
Woman missing since 1974 found living in Texas
Woman missing since 1974 found living in Texas
Woman missing since 1974 found living in Texas
Woman missing since 1974 found living in Texas

INDIANAPOLIS -- The daughter of a southeast Indiana woman missing since 1974 didn't even know her mother was alive until four days ago, but she says "this isn't going to be one of those happy, made-for-TV movies."

Lula Ann Gillespie-Miller, originally from Laurel, Indiana, disappeared after giving birth to her third child, Tammy Miller. The 28-year-old decided she was too young to be a mother, and signed her children over to her parents.

She then left home, never to be seen again until she was recently found living under an assumed name in small-town Texas. Miller told People magazine she called her mother on Friday, but Gillespie-Miller said she couldn't talk.

"It was less than a two-minute conversation," Miller says. "She said, 'I'll call you when I'm able to talk,' " but it's a call Miller doesn't think will happen. "I will never call her again," Miller said. "It felt like being rejected all over again."

Miller says she's still processing a range of emotions after thinking for decades that her mother was dead, but now realizing that her mother made a decision to disappear. "It's almost like going through the grieving process again," Miller says. "I'm glad she's alive, but it hurts emotionally knowing this was her choice."

Indiana State Police Detective Sgt. Scott Jarvis took up the case in January 2014 after being contacted by the Doe Network, who said they had been in touch with Gillespie-Miller's family. The family said the last contact they'd ever had with their daughter was a letter they received from her postmarked in Richmond, Indiana, in 1975.

Based on that information, Jarvis found a case of a deceased, unidentified female found in Richmond in 1975. The woman was buried in an unmarked grave in the Earlham Cemetery.

In December 2014, the body was exhumed for DNA analysis and comparison to a sample taken from Miller.

While waiting for the DNA analysis, Jarvis began to investigate the trail of a woman with similarities to Gillespie-Miller who had lived in Tennessee in the 1980s, and then later in Texas.

Jarvis eventually narrowed in on a woman living in a small town in south Texas since the 1990s.

When Texas Rangers knocked on the woman's door, she admitted that her name is actually Lula Gillespie-Miller. She's now 69 years old.

Police said Gillespie-Miller didn't commit a crime by leaving her home in 1974, and still reserves the right to remain anonymous.

Gillespie-Miller didn't offer an explanation for why she left Indiana in 1974, but she did give consent for police to give her contact information to her daughter.