Murder Under the Friday Night Lights is investigating a series of rapes involving cheerleaders in River Oaks, Texas, that culminated in the killing of teenager Retha Stratton in 1982.
The rapist and killer was eventually found to be Wesley Wayne Miller. This discovery shocked the community as Miller had been captain of the Castleberry High School football team and was voted best all-around during his senior year. Miller’s high standing amongst his school pals and the community led to mistakes in the investigation, which allowed him to escape justice for so long.
From January 1981, the cops found themselves investigating a series of attacks centered around cheerleaders from Castleberry High School in River Oaks, a quiet and leafy suburb of Forth Worth, TX. The attacks all involved a well-built man wearing a ski mask who forced himself on teenage girls and attempted to rape them.
Some of the attacks were shockingly brazen; he raped 18-year-old Lisa Gabbert in her own home and had walked past her severely disabled mother to do so. The police speculated that the attacker must have known Gabbert, and it was her who first mentioned the similarity of her attacker’s build to her school friend, Miller.
Wesley Miller turned from rape to murder
Despite the cops suspecting Miller may have been responsible for the rapes, he remained at large and soon graduated to murder.
On January 21, 1982, Retha Stratton was just 18 years old when her roommate found her lying dead on the floor of their apartment. She had been stabbed a shocking 36 times and had had her wrists slit. Her panties had been stuffed into her mouth, and the murder weapon was still lodged in her chest.
The cops caught a break when Stratton’s neighbor reported seeing Miller’s truck in the vicinity of the crime scene. Miller’s girlfriend would later testify that Miller had turned up at her nearby home with blood on his jeans and behaving suspiciously.
Approximately 48 hours after the murder, the police picked up Miller at his parent’s home. At first, he denied the killing, but he eventually confessed to the killing during questioning.
The cops also found a fingerprint that put him in the frame for a rape in neighboring Saginaw. In total, he was suspected of committing four rapes and one attempted rape.
Miller was convicted for the murder of Stratton and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was initially paroled in 1991 but was subsequently sent back to jail for various parole violations.
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Murder Under the Friday Night Lights airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.