A pastor’s wife’s questionable suicide sparks suspicion and highlights the fruit of abusive theologies

This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on May 12, 2024.

Mica Miller’s body was found at 3:03 p.m. April 27 in Robeson County, N.C., with a gunshot wound to the head, an hour and a half drive away from her home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., two days after serving her husband divorce papers.

Her husband, John-Paul Miller, known as JP, is pastor of a nondenominational church, Solid Rock Church in Myrtle Beach.

According to police, 9 minutes before the gunshot was heard, she called 911 and said, “I’m about to kill myself and I just want my family to know where to find me.” This was after purchasing a gun earlier in the day.

Fisherman Johnnie Jacobs told WBTW he had been fishing that night when he heard the gunshot.

Mica Miller

“As I decided that I was going to stop fishing, I came back through, stopped where they call it a slew or a lake off of the river,” he recalled. “So, I pulled in there with my little boat and, maybe 5 minutes after, and maybe 5 minutes into the slew, I heard a cry. I heard it for about 2 or 3 minutes. Then I stopped, heard a gunshot. Then, the crying stopped.”

Jacobs reflected, “If it had been a person that was crying in the open, I would have checked on them all day long. I just wish I would have gone in there and checked on her.”

Her death is a tragedy we should have seen coming. In an affidavit, Mica’s sister Sierra Francis said, “Mica stated to me on many occasions, ‘If I end up with a bullet in my head, it was JP,” referring to her husband John Paul Miller.

“I know my sister to have expressed the abuse and violence against her by her husband to others, including family members and members of the church congregation,” the affidavit said. “My sister also expressed to me that she was fearful that she would not make it to the divorce and that her life would be taken from her.”

Mica’s story has ignited a firestorm of responses online, especially from Christian women, calling for an investigation into Miller’s husband, despite the fact the coroner ruled her death a suicide.

While it’s important during news events like this to give space for grieving and to do our due diligence without jumping to conclusions, the reality is that there are far too many fingerprints of narcissism and patriarchy on Mica’s death for us to move on and blame her death on mental illness.

There is much we do not know yet. But sifting through the details that led to her death, it is clear people were hearing her crying but were not checking on her enough to save her life. And while Mica’s crying stopped, there are many tears from many women in abusive marriages who are continuing to call out for help.

Mica’s story is part of a larger conversation Christians need to have regarding how to respond to mental health crises and abusive marriages.

The announcement

After JP finished his Sunday sermon for the nondenominational Solid Rock Church of Myrtle Beach, S.C., he told his congregation he needed to make an announcement.

“I’m going to have you stand up. And I’m going to make an announcement. And after the announcement, I’m going to ask that you leave church quietly and don’t talk about the announcement here in the building,” he instructed. “My request to you is that you will continue to come to church and serve and give for the next, you know, little bit. I’m taking a little bit of a break, and I don’t want to have to worry about the church. My break may be a few days, a few weeks, I don’t know. I got a call late last night, my wife has passed away. And yeah, it was self-induced. And it was up in North Carolina. And we’re going to have a funeral for her next Sunday here at 3:00 p.m. … I’m going on adrenaline right now. … Y’all knew that she wasn’t well mentally and that she needed her medicine that was hard to get to her.”

Grooming Mica

Growing up with Baptist roots, JP started the nondenominational Solid Rock Church in the Socastee Library in 2006, when he was just 26 years old.

Mica filed a police report in February alleging ongoing abuse that went all the way back to the early years of the church and her childhood. She was 14 years younger than her husband, age 30 at her death.

Mica Miller

According to the report, “The CP (complainant) stated that she has known her husband since she was 10 years old and that he ‘groomed’ her while she worked for him at Solid Rock Church until they were married six years ago.”

In a later interview with News Nation, Mica’s sister Sierra Francis said she thinks Mica meant to say JP was grooming her since 2010, rather than since age 10. “She’s consistently said around 14, 15 years old. I’ve never heard her ever say 10 years old,” Sierra clarified.

Russel B. Long, JP’s attorney, denied the allegations in a statement: “These baseless claims and false reporting have caused immense distress and harm to Pastor Miller and his family.”

Mica is Miller’s second wife. According to DailyMail: “Miller’s first wife, Alison, filed for divorce in 2015 after discovering he was having an affair with Mica, who was 14 years his junior.” Alison also claimed that “Miller had an addiction to prostitutes and had ‘sexual encounters’ with underage girls.” She continued, “He had also confessed to me and other staff members of the church that he had sexual encounters with young females from the church, who were under the age of 16.”

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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