Donald Eugene Miller Jr. has a leg up on Halloween. He can go trick-or-treating as a dead man and he doesn’t even need a special costume.
Miller, who was declared dead in 1994 by the Hancock County Probate Court in Ohio, made an unsuccessful bid this week to reverse the effects of legal decomposition. The court can’t change a death ruling after three years, said County Probate Court Judge Allan Davis, according to the Courier of Findlay, Ohio.
“We’ve got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health,” said Davis, who told Miller the three-year limit was clear. “I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned.”
The jurist called it a “strange, strange situation.”
Or as a character in “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens famously noted: “The law is a ass -- a idiot.” (Of course, Dickens stole the line from a 17th century playwright who was really dead by that time, so dead that a literary argument still rages about his identity.)
Miller, now 61 -- or maybe 9 if you count just the time he has enjoyed in his recent new lease on life -- had disappeared in the 1980s, losing his job and fighting alcoholism.
Robin Miller, his ex-wife -- er, widow? -- sought the death ruling so she and their two children could get death benefits from Social Security. She also claimed her husband owed some $26,000 in overdue child support payments by 1994.
Miller resurfaced in Ohio (well known for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of whose inductees is Led Zepplin, famous for “Stairway to Heaven”) around 2005 and was told by his parents, presumably after they overcame their surprise at his reappearance, that he was legally dead.
Now he wants to get his driver’s license back and his Social Security number. His ex-wife opposes legal reanimation because of the danger she would have repay death benefits to the government.
Miller told Judge Davis he would like to start his life again, or “whatever’s left of it.”
This time around.