ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) – Police across the region are still searching for two girls whose mother was found dead Sunday inside their home.
Police say Terry Miles, 44, is a person of interest in the disappearance of 7-year-old Lulu Bandera-Margret and 14-year-old Lili Griffith, and the death of their mother, Tonya Bates, 44. Officials in Louisiana are also issuing a warrant for his arrest after he violated the terms of his probation following a 2014 conviction for domestic abuse battery. His decades-long criminal history dates back to 1995, when he served time in California for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant.
Miles has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the disappearance of the girls or their mother’s death, but Round Rock Police Department officials believe the girls are not with him “willingly.”
Miles was Bates’ roommate. Here’s what we know about Miles:
Storied Past in Louisiana
In the past decade, Miles has been arrested and charged in numerous domestic violence cases in Calcasieu Parish, which is in southwest Louisiana. He was also originally charged with murder in 2014 but a grand jury failed to indict him in the case.
- December 2009 – Domestic abuse battery: Case status unknown
- July 2011 – Domestic abuse battery: Sentenced to 90 days in jail and one year supervised probation
- September 2013 – Pornography involving juveniles: Charges were dropped in May 2015
- October 2011 – Attempted second-degree murder: Charges were dropped in November of 2012
- June 2014 – Domestic abuse battery: Sentenced on May 2015 to one year in prison, four years suspension and five years supervised probation
- July 2014 – Murder suspect: Considered a person of interest in the murder of Pamela Parker in Sulphur, La.
- August 2014 – Simple battery: Charges rejected on Sept. 22, 2014 after he was convicted on other charges
- August 2015 – Considered a person of interest in third-degree rape of a woman in Sulphur, La.
- November 2015 – Domestic abuse battery: Pleaded no contest to amended charge of simple battery on Sept. 7, 2016. Sentenced to six months in jail.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the grand jury failed to indict Miles in the 2014 murder case because they didn’t have enough evidence in the case. However, Mancuso says he still believes Miles is their prime suspect. While Round Rock police have not released how Bates’ died, Mancuso says his modus operandi is similar, “In this particular case in Round Rock it’s also a beating — which is the same manner of death [of Pamela Parker] — which was never disclosed before this time.”
“We know that he likes to beat on women because he’s got several domestic abuse, battery charges,” continues Mancuso on Miles’ extensive criminal background.
The chief of police in Sulphur tells KXAN his department also had a long history with Miles dating back to 2010. In the 2011 case, Chief Lewis Coats said Miles tried to strangle the person he was dating and even went so far as to stage her attempted suicide.
“He had controlled her mentally and abused her mentally and she had actually filed a false report at the time to say she was raped by a suspect,” explains Coats. “But once she got away from his control, she was able to tell the truth — that it wasn’t a rape but a domestic abuse and he tried to strangle her.”
The Louisiana Department of Corrections say Miles’ probation for his two convictions wasn’t set to end until April 30, 2020. The last time they did a check on him was in August 2017 and he is not allowed to leave the state without a travel permit.
Miles was initially granted medium supervision probation on May 1, 2015, said Ken Pastorick, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Medium supervision means he has to be seen once every three months, but he can – and was – seen more than that, according to their records.
Pastorick said Miles’ probation was going well so he was granted minimum supervision in April 2017, meaning he was required to be checked up on once every six months. Although again, he can – and was – checked up on in August, before six months had passed.
Miles was living in the Lake Charles area the last time probation officers checked on him in August 2017.
Since the Louisiana Department of Corrections did not issue a travel permit allowing him to leave the state, Pastorick said he is violating his parole, which is why they are issuing a warrant for his arrest.
Decade of California crimes
Before his stint in Louisiana, Miles also spent time in and out of prison and on parole in California, between 1995 and when he was discharged from the state’s custody 12 years later, said Luis Patino, a spokesperson with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Miles was first sentenced to two years in prison on November 9, 1995, for an inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant charge out of San Bernardino County.
A judge gave him 429 days of credit for time served in jail and he was paroled less than a year later on May 21, 1996. He returned to prison for violating his conditions of parole twice.
He was sentenced again on Oct.12, 2002, for new charges out of San Bernardino County. The judge sentenced him to another two years in prison for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant and for threatening to hurt someone, Patino said.
For those charges, Miles arrived in the California Department of Corrections custody on Oct. 24, 2002, and was paroled on Dec. 2, 2003. He returned to prison three times for, again, breaking the conditions of his parole. He remained under parole supervision until he completed his sentence and parole on Dec. 26, 2007.
Kelsey McKay is a consultant for law enforcement agencies across the country. She specializes in strangulation-related crimes.
“It never surprises me when some of our most violent offenders have a history of strangulation,” said McKay. “When you put your hands around the neck of a loved one, you’re really showing the world that you’re capable of killing — that you’re willing to do so at any given point in time.”
McKay says strangulation is a predictor of future crimes.
“It really defines who this perpetrator is and what they’re willing to do. Once somebody has strangled someone, they have shown that they have the rage and the enjoyment to kill another person,” she said.
Despite felony strangulation statutes in nearly every state in the country, the most common outcome in strangulation cases is that they be reduced to a misdemeanor crime, or dismissed altogether. This is often the case is victims do not wish to cooperate with a law enforcement investigation.
That’s why McKay says training law enforcement and first responders on scene, and even district attorneys offices after a crime has been committed, is crucial.
“Has that office had training? Is that community collecting the evidence they need at the scene? Overwhelmingly, the answer to that question is ‘no,'” McKay said.
McKay says if first responders receive proper and pertinent training about collecting strangulation evidence on scene, justice can be served before a homicide — with a greater possibility of being prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Without such training?
“These perpetrators go on to be mass shooters, to go on to kill police officers, and so it really isn’t just an issue of domestic violence. It is an issue that speaks to the safety of our communities,” said McKay.
Miles might be driving a grey 2017 Hyundai Accent with Texas license plate number JGH9845. The vehicle has a hatchback with a white sticker on the upper right-hand corner of the rear window. Round Rock police on Sunday said the last possible sighting was in northern New Mexico or possibly Southern Colorado.
Police said to not approach Miles. Instead, contact the Round Rock Police Department at 512-218-5515 or 911.