When Rollin and Sandra Miller found themselves at the mercy of an attacker last week, they found mercy in the word of their Lord and Savior.
The Millers, longtime Macon residents, were awakened from a deep sleep about midnight on July 6. Sandra heard the intruder’s voice first, Rollin a few moments later.
“He quietly told me that he was going to rape me and then he told Rollin not to interfere,” said Sandra. Rollin is 77. Sandra is 75.
“My first instinct was to use my legs to try to kick him away from our bed,” said Rollin. “That’s when he started beating me in the head and I fell to the floor. I think I was knocked unconscious for a short time.”
By the time Rollin came back to his senses, he heard his wife struggling with the man, on the floor at the foot of the bed. “I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t move,” he said.
Sandra remembers the details with remarkable clarity. “I tried to fight him away, but he stripped all my clothes off and dragged me to the floor at the foot of the bed,” she said. It was dark, she remembers, with only the light from their alarm clocks providing some illumination. “He took his clothes off and I was begging him not to hurt me, but he started molesting me with his fingers and the only thing I could think to do was to grab him by his privates and squeeze tight.
Rollin was pleading with him. “Please don’t hurt my wife.”
At some point during the attack, the intruder displayed a knife. “Somehow in the struggle I was able to get the knife away from him and I reached into a laundry basket near the bed and buried the knife deep inside the load of clothes,” she said.
With her grip tightening, Sandra did the only other thing she could think of. “I started preaching to him, telling him that if you don’t stop and repent you are going to hell. I repeated it three or four times as loud as I could.” She said then screamed, “Lord Jesus, please help me.”
At that moment he miraculously stopped his aggression, she said.
“He stood up and reached down and helped Rollin stand up and began telling us that he was sorry,” said Sandra. “He kept apologizing and then started begging us not to call the police, because he said he had recently been released from prison where he had been sent for doing the same thing he was doing to us.”
Rollin said as his dizziness improved, he questioned the man about how he had entered their home.
“He told me he had broken some glass at one of the doors,” said Rollin, who said the man then told him, “Come, and I will show you.”
“He led me to the door and I could feel the glass on the floor,” said Rollin. “He kept apologizing, and I kept preaching to him, and he begged me over and over not to call the police, and then I watched him leave the house.”
As Rollin and the attacker left the bedroom, Sandra found her husband’s cell phone and called 911. She didn’t find her own cell phone until later. The attacker had hidden it under a stack of items on a dresser.
They said Macon police and an ambulance arrived minutes later. A son who lives in Caledonia was summoned and made it there quickly. They were both taken to Noxubee General Hospital where Rollin was treated for his head injuries. They made it back home about 4:30 a.m.
A suspect, Jamar Stallings of Macon, who was identified early in the investigation, was arrested Sunday.
The Millers, who are well-known locally and across Mississippi because of their “Tomato House” on the Hwy. 45 Bypass, have both lived in Macon most of their lives. Rollin was 15 when his parents moved him to Macon from Iowa in 1960. Sandra was 14 when her parents moved here in 1961 from Indiana. At that time the two families were early members of Magnolia Mennonite Church. They married in 1967 and never left Noxubee County.
They moved into their Dickert Street home in 2011.
“We love our neighborhood,” said Sandra. “All of our neighbors work, and we get along great with all of them, both Black and white.”
Only on a few occasions, just recently, have they experienced any problems.
“Rollin had his tool box stolen from the back of his truck, and somebody has been helping themselves to things in our garage freezer,” she said.
Stallings, 35, was arrested last Sunday after a four-day manhunt. His arrest came without resistance in a field near the Zack Brooks Golf Course in Macon, not far from where he had been living, in a mobile home park on Pineywoods Road.
“Because of some of the things the Millers told us, and some postings on Facebook, we identified him early as a possible suspect,” said Macon Police Chief Davine Beck.
Among those identifying factors was the statement that Stallings made to the Millers, that he had recently been released from prison where he had been sentenced for a similar crime.
Stallings was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Noxubee County Circuit Court in 2017 after pleading guilty to a break-in and attack on former Macon resident Bonnie Resh at her Washington Street home that occurred in 2016. Resh suffered head injuries in the attack, but recovered.
Chief Beck said Stallings earned early release within the past two to three months and returned to Macon where he grew up and still has family. Asked about the early release, Chief Beck said, “I’m still dumbfounded as to how he was able to be released after just five years.”
Stallings was wearing an ankle bracelet monitoring device, still attached, at the time of his arrest.
“The Mississippi Department of Corrections was monitoring him as part of his probation requirements and they were able to help us track his movements through GPS,” said Beck. “That guy had been on the move a lot over the last several days, but never left the Macon area. We found evidence that he had been hiding out, coming and going, near the old Country Club building.”
Beck said Stallings is being held in jail at West Point with a $210,000 bond, charged with breaking and entering, aggravated assault, and attempted rape.
“He has now violated the terms of his probation and I suspect the Mississippi Department of Corrections will be returning him to prison in pretty short order,” he said.
Beck said several items with possible ties to Stallings were recovered outside the Miller home, including a black “do-rag” cap and a cell phone. “These items are all being tested as possible evidence,” he said.
Beck said his department was assisted in Sunday’s arrest by the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Noxubee County Sheriff’s Department.
When you arrive at the Millers’ home you’re greeted by these words above their garage entrance: “Faith begins where possibilities end.”
Sandra and Rollin truly believe it was their faith in God that delivered them from what they describe as a “man possessed by the devil.” They describe the moments after they evoked the word of God and their attacker backed off as “nothing short of a miracle.”
Rollin displays a photo on his cell phone, showing his bloody and bruised face, taken at his arrival at the emergency room. Days later he still showed the scars and bruising.
“I’ve never had any kind of injuries like this, never been hurt like this in my life,” he said. He said the vision in his right eye is still a little blurred and hearing hasn’t returned to his right ear.
Sandra, a short woman, barely five feet tall, doesn’t have to remind you that she wouldn’t appear to have the size to fight off an attacker.
“I’ve never fought like that in my entire life,” she said. “I developed faith in God at an early age, knowing that I was small in stature, I would have to depend on the Lord for my physical well-being.”
Rollin said he found out early that her small stature doesn’t mean she is a weak woman. “I’ve always known that she has strong hands. She is strong in faith and strong in her grip,” he said.
Both say they are determined to not let this incident change their opinion of their fellow man or the town they call home.
“We will remain busy and active, working hard as we can at tomato growing,” said Rollin. “We have never lived in fear and we’re not going to start now,” said Sandra.
The tomato variety they’ve had the most success with through the years — Goliath. Isn’t that fitting?
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