A federal jury has convicted a man on kidnapping charges after he took two sisters from a Texas home where their mother was later found dead.
Terry Allen Miles, 45, was convicted Tuesday. Investigators say the 45-year-old was living with Tonya Bates in Round Rock to help look after her two daughters when they disappeared in December 2017.
'Today's verdict represents justice for the child victims of Terry Miles,' said U.S. Attorney Bash in a release. 'Mandatory minimums have been criticized recently, but I am glad that federal law requires defendants to serve at least 20 years—and up to life in prison—for these sorts of heinous acts against children.
'Thank you to our wonderful prosecution team – who worked without paychecks during the shutdown preparing for this trial – and to our partners at the FBI and the Round Rock Police Department.'
Co-workers called police in Round Rock, about 20 miles north of Austin, Texas, to ask that they check on Bates when she did not show up for work Saturday.
An officer later found their mother dead from blunt-force injuries and her death was ruled a homicide. Miles and the girls were found days later in a remote area of Colorado. The girls were 7 and 14 at the time.
'I am pleased with the guilty verdict against Terry Miles. I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI and the men and women of the Round Rock Police Department and all our Law Enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case. Our prayers are that this verdict starts the healing process for the two victims,' said Round Rock Police Chief Banks.
'This investigation and subsequent prosecution, resulted from the exemplary collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement, across multiple states, leading to the safe recovery of two children,' added FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. 'This effort not only exemplifies our commitment to prevent violent crimes against children, but it sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute violent criminals who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.'
Investigators allege Miles repeatedly struck Bates with a flashlight, though he hasn't been charged in the death. Bates blood was also found in Miles' sneakers, testimony at the trial revealed.
Law enforcement officials tracked the girls' phones, finding one in the woods near a Wal-Mart in Round Rock. Surveillance footage from the store showed Miles buying camping gear, including a 10-person tent, rope and tarps, then leaving in a vehicle that matched Bates' car.
The other daughter's phone showed a location near two cell towers in New Mexico on January 1. A license plate reader also captured a picture of the car travelling toward Colorado.
Defense attorneys say Miles was protecting the girls from their mother's chaotic and illicit lifestyle, and had no part in her death.
Testimony also revealed that Miles repeatedly engaged in sexual relations with the 14-year-old over the duration of five months. Mile's semen was found on the girl's underwear that she was wearing at the time that she was found. His semen was also found at the campsite where the trio had been hiding.
Miles faces up to life in prison when sentenced in April.
According to Louisiana court records, Miles was on probation from a 2015 domestic violence conviction and a 2014 conviction for possession of stolen goods.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso told the Austin American-Statesman that Miles had a history of domestic violence arrests and convictions. He was convicted two other times in 2009 and 2011 on domestic violence charges.
Mancuso said Miles is still a person of interest in the 2014 homicide of the mother of a woman he was dating and living with at the time. He was also charged with second-degree attempted murder for trying to suffocate a woman he was dating in 2011 and allegedly staging a suicide scene.
The 2011 charges were dropped when that woman killed herself before she could testify.
'He will live with a woman until she's had enough, then he beats up on her and moves on and finds another victim,' Mancuso said.
Miles was also convicted twice in California with of injuring a spouse or cohabitant, in 1995 and 2002.