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Family of missing Oklahoma teenager desperate for clues

By Jennifer Palmer, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 30--WILSON -- The family of a missing Wilson teen hopes answers to her whereabouts are revealed in a court case against the man last seen with her.

Charges of endangering others while eluding a police officer were filed against James Conn Nipp, 22, of Overbrook. It's the first public court filing that connects Nipp to Molly Miller, 17, and her boyfriend, Colt Haynes, 21, who last were seen July 7.

That evening, Nipp, driving a 2012 Honda Accord that wasn't his, sped away from two Wilson police officers, who pursued him briefly. Using cellphone records, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol confirmed that Miller, Haynes and Nipp were in the car during the chase and were in Ardmore together before the pursuit.

A witness also described seeing a car leave a home about 9 that night, with Haynes in the front seat, Miller in the back seat and driven by a man matching Nipp's description.

Nipp appeared in court Thursday on the eluding charge, which was filed in January, and waived his preliminary hearing. His next hearing is scheduled for April 23.

Brian Aspan, an attorney representing Nipp, declined to comment on any issue that hasn't been filed by the district attorney's office, including Miller and Haynes' disappearance.

Miller and Haynes are considered endangered, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Ronnie Hampton, who led the investigation into the car chase and the resulting eluding charge.

"We have not found any evidence that indicates they are lost, so foul play is highly suspected," he said.

Other agencies assisting with the investigation into Miller and Haynes' disappearance include the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation,, Wilson police, the Lone Grove Police Department, the Ardmore Police Department, the Carter County sheriff's office, the Love County sheriff's office, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the U.S. Marshals Service, Hampton said.

What happened

The events of July 7 are starting to come to light. At 10:46 p.m. on that date, Nipp was driving recklessly in Wilson, spinning out and slinging rocks at two marked Wilson police vehicles, according to court records. The officers flipped on their emergency lights and sirens and began to pursue the car.

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As the car traveled down State Highway 76 in Carter County, Nipp sped up, turned off his headlights and drove into the wrong lane, attempting to get away from the officers, the affidavit states. As he made a turn, gravel sprayed onto the police vehicles. The officers discontinued the pursuit in Love County, fearing for their safety.

The next morning, on July 8, Sabrina Graham reported her car stolen to the Lone Grove Police Department. Her car matched the description of the car in the chase.

Graham told the highway patrol and her insurance company that she loaned her car to Nipp and that he returned it 15 to 30 minutes before the police chase. But some of her neighbors, who were outside at that time, said it wasn't true and the car didn't arrive back at that time.

Graham said she went to sleep after Nipp returned her car and woke up the next morning to find it missing. But cellphone records reveal calls and text messages between her phone and Nipp's mother and aunt throughout the night and into the early morning hours of July 8, the affidavit states.

The content of those messages hasn't been revealed.

In the days following, Miller and Haynes were reported missing. Family members have been told Miller called 911 shortly after midnight, didn't say anything and hung up. Telephone records show the couple also made several calls to friends wanting a ride, and Haynes reportedly told some friends he had broken an ankle and was coughing up blood.

In August, the Accord was discovered with several thousand dollars of damage, Hampton said. That's when his agency began investigating.

The car owner, Graham, 32, of Lone Grove, has since been charged with false reporting and filing a false insurance claim.

Records reveal

Court records reveal Nipp has a history of criminal charges and drug abuse.

He has been convicted of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia from a 2010 case and driving under the influence of drugs in 2011. The judge allowed him to enter a delayed sentencing program for young adults. A substance abuse evaluation detailed in the file reveals he began smoking marijuana at 9 or 10 years old and by 15, considered himself a "pot head."

He said he began attending substance abuse meetings after his convictions and "changed his way of living." He was recommended for inpatient treatment but failed to show up.

The assessment, under "attitudes," states: "Nipp appears to be supportive of crime in general, and appears supportive of an unconventional lifestyle."

On Jan. 22, the district attorney filed a request to revoke his deferred sentence on the marijuana charge because charges in Carter and Love counties violate his probation.

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Haynes, too, had drug problems, court records show. In 2011, he was charged with endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine after he was caught with lithium batteries, pseudoephedrine pills, digital scales and hydrogen peroxide.

He also was allowed into a delayed sentencing program for young adults. In his assessment, he reported using marijuana, methamphetamine and alcohol. He obtained his GED while incarcerated.

In April, a probation and parole officer filed a violation report, recommending Haynes be returned to court. "Haynes continuously associates with persons having criminal histories and his behavior has not progressed any since being placed on probation," the officer wrote. On July 18, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest, but he had disappeared.

Family response

Miller's cellphone hasn't been used since the night of the pursuit, and her cousin, Paula Fielder, fears the worst. She has led a media campaign to raise awareness of Miller's disappearance.

She has also logged many hours searching rural areas in Love County where Miller was last seen.

Miller's 18th birthday is coming up in April, and her family is preparing to mark another milestone without her.

"It's been the worst eight months of my life," Fielder said. "I don't understand how families go years and years and years without knowing. This family is being torn apart."



(c)2014 The Oklahoman

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



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