Part 2 in a 6 part series on the aftermath of the Blake Litton murder
Jamie Litton's parents thought T.J. Presley was trouble from the start.
"He stole money, he stole prescription pain drugs, he tore up my truck, it was just one thing after another," Jim Miller said. "I told Jamie to get him out of the house. I had had enough."
Jim Miller thinks his daughter was afraid of Presley. He thinks that's why she didn't tell someone about what had happened to Blake the night of Feb. 15.
"I think she was scared," Jim Miller said. "She was traumatized. I think there was abuse going on with the kids and Jamie. I've had people tell me they witnessed abuse at the McDonald's parking lot (in Versailles), where he abused Jamie."
Jamie is now charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. death of her three-year-old son Blake.
As is Presley.
Jamie Litton, a 2004 graduate of Stover High School, is Jim and LaVera Miller's only child. They adopted her when she was 6 weeks old. The couple had another daughter who was born in 1977. She only lived three hours.
"We were advised not to try again because the chances were extremely high the same thing could happen again," Jim Miller said. "We adopted Jamie after waiting eight and a half years on an adoption list. She was brought up with the most love you could possibly have. She was taught right from wrong. She knew the books of the Bible when she was 5 years old and could recite them frontward and backward."
Jamie changed when she was in high school, Jim Miller said. She began making bad choices.
"She started going nuts, I guess, for lack of a better word when she got involved with the guy who became her first husband," Jim Miller said. "She got to where she wouldn't listen to nothing. She was 15 or 16 when that happened and it got progressively worse. It's been trouble ever since."
Pastor John Wagner watched Jamie grow up.
"She had a good childhood," Wagner said. "Her parents loved her. They raised her to have faith in God, to respect her fellow man, to put family first. Her childhood was good. You wouldn't find two more loving parents."
But Jamie's teenage years weren't so good.
"During that teenage rebellion time, that's when things went south," Wagner said.
"I look back on it today and she has lied to us," Jim Miller said. "I'm reasonably sure everything she ever told us was a lie since the time she was about 15 or 16. Why, I don't know.
"Anybody who knows Jamie doesn't understand," Jim Miller said. "It just doesn't make any sense."
Jamie was married for the first time when she was 18, soon after she graduated from high school. The couple had two daughters: Alexis and Holly. Jamie's ex-husband lives in Green Ridge. The girls, 7 and 6, live with a family member in Green Ridge.
Jamie and her second husband, Robbin Litton, the father of Blake and Faith, had custody battles over Alexis and Holly with her first husband.
"He (Robbin Litton) supposedly abused one of them by spanking her, but I still don't believe it," Jim Miller said. "They were accusing each other … it was all over custody issues to see who would get custody of the kids. It went through the court system. At this point, that's why he (Robbin Litton) doesn't have custody of Faith."
Faith is living with Robbin's parents in Sweet Springs, which is where Blake is buried. She had been living with the Millers after Blake died.
"The day of his death they (DFS) told us we would have custody (of Faith)," Jim Miller said. "Then they just totally reversed everything. The day of the funeral they called us to tell us we were to give Faith to Robbin's parents, that they were going to get custody of her. They wanted Faith to be closer to her father, but he can't spend the night in the same house (because of the abuse charge)."
After her two failed marriages, Jamie Litton began seeing T.J. Presley in April 2011.
"T.J. was the worst thing that could have happened to this family," Jim Miller said.
"A lot of people told Jamie he was not good," Pastor John Wagner said.
After leaving the Millers on Jan. 2, Jamie Litton, her two youngest children and Presley moved in with his mother in Ivy Bend.
Then on Valentine's Day, Jamie and the kids moved into a rental house in Stover.
"She wanted to get out of that situation and get up here," Jim Miller said. "And if T.J. wanted to come he could come."
Two days later, Blake Litton was dead.
Jim Miller's cautionary words to his daughter proved prophetic.
"I told her when she took them out of the house (on Jan. 2), I said 'I don't trust him,'" Jim Miller said.
It is hard not to blame those who were in a position to protect the children, Jim Miller said.
"Do I want to bring charges against DFS? Yes," Jim Miller said. "Do I have the money to do it? No. The DFS investigator was in this house twice and I've talked to him for hours. The last thing I said is when do we file charges against DFS? He looked at me kind of strange and said 'you think that should be done?' I said 'without a doubt.'"
But that won't bring Blake Litton back.
For the Millers, they lost their only grandson. But in some ways they've lost their other grandchildren as well, because they don't get to see them as often. And they've lost their only child.
"We've lost it all," Jim Miller said.
Jim and LaVera Miller visited Blake's gravesite in Sweet Springs on Sept. 8. It was the first time for them to see the headstone, made by Kidwell Granite Works of Versailles, since it was installed the day before.
"We went and got Faith and took her with us," Jim Miller said.
"She's doing real good," LaVera Miller said of Faith. "She talks about Blake."
LaVera Miller talked to Blake on the phone the day before he died.
"He was excited about registering for preschool," LaVera Miller said. "He was going to go in and get pre-registered in about a week or so. He never met a stranger."
Blake and Faith Litton were only 11 months apart in age.
"He liked being a big brother to Faith," Jim Miller said. "He was her protector."
The children were both three at the time of Blake's death. Faith had turned three in January, and Blake would have turned four in 11 days.
"Blake's picture is on the stone. It makes a statement all itself," Jim Miller said. "It was beautiful and it was awful at the same time."