Brother says short-handed N.H. Major Crimes hindered in efforts to solve Bobblie Miller murder

By Bea Lewis

GILFORD — As the sixth anniversary of the unsolved murder of Roberta "Bobbie" Miller has come and gone, her family has updated a billboard on Route 104 in Meredith, to publicize a reward that has grown to $55,000 for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution or the person or persons responsible for her death.

Miller, 54, was discovered inside her 123 Country Club Road home in the early evening hours of Nov. 1, 2010 and investigators have released few details other than that she and her beloved yellow Labrador mix dog 'Sport' were both fatally shot.

A year after her death, investigators said they had determined that the murder occurred between 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31 and 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1.

Miller's death certificate filed to allow her estate to be probated discloses that she died on Halloween as a result of shotgun wounds of the head and neck, and that she sustained perforations to her skull, brain, left carotid artery, aorta and lungs.

While investigators have remained tight-lipped about the case, based on probate court filings it appears that that theft was not a motive. In 2012, Gilford police released cash and checks totaling $35,211found inside the home where the killing took place. Miller had purchased the ranch-style home just 10 days before she was killed.

A copy of her will filed as part of the probate process shows it was signed just four days before her death. Just two months earlier, Miller had concluded a bitter three-year long divorce in CarrollCounty. Thought finalized, Miller and her ex-husband Gary Miller, wholived in Wolfeboro for about 20 years, were still in court battling over payment issues related to taxes.

Two- days before she was killed, a three-season camp on Great East Lake in Acton, Maine, that Gary Miller received in the divorce was destroyed in a fire determined to be arson. No one has been charged in connection with the blaze.

Ken Dionne, the victim's brother, said while authorities are stillworking to solve her murder, he takes it hard that the state has
limited resources to devote to the effort.

He laments that there are just 14 troopers assigned to the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit, only half of which actually work in the field, and none of whom focus exclusively on homicides.
The Major Crimes Unit is also tasked with handling computer crimes,missing persons, providing forensic crime scene services and investigating crimes that occur in state correctional facilities.

Dionne said his sister is just one of the many victims murdered in New Hampshire in recent years and that without enough manpower devoted to her case, he believes it is unlikely that her killer will be broughtto justice without the public's help.

Anyone who may have knowledge of any circumstances surrounding Bobbie Miller's death is urged to contact the New Hampshire State PoliceMajor Crime Unit at (603) 223-8573, or the New Hampshire State Police Tipline at (603) 223-3960.

Anyone who spoke with Bobbie Miller or saw her the Halloween weekend of 2010, especially between 4:00 p.m. on Sunday and 5:00 p.m. the following Monday, is strongly encouraged to call the New Hampshire State Police.

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This billboard announcing a reward that has grown to $55,000 forinformation in connection with the Halloween 2010 murder of Roberta"Bobbie" Miller of Gilford, posted on Route 104 in Meredith hasrecently been updated with a new photograph of the victim in hopes itwill result in the needed help from the public to crack the six-year-old unsolved case. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Site plan dispute between Gilmanton Winery & the town's planning board is now is court

LACONIA — The battle between Marshall and Carol Bishop, the owners of the Gilmanton Winery, and the Gilmanton Planning Board escalated into a full-blown legal war on Nov. 18 when the board issued a cease-and-desist order against the business.

After receiving the order on Nov. 22, the Bishops' attorney filed for an emergency temporary restraining order against the Planning Board on Nov. 23 in Belknap County Superior Court, saying that forcing the winery to close for the Thanksgiving holiday would cost his client money as he had already booked seatings for the day.

The two parties declared a court-sanctioned cease fire when the Bishops agreed to withdraw their motion for an emergency restraining order and the Planning Board agreed not to pursue any cease-and-desist order until the court decides on the merits of a preliminary injunction or request to stop an action, which the judge has ordered the Bishops to file before Dec. 9. Once filed, it is expected the town will reply, unless an agreement is reached beforehand.

According to the request for the restraining order, the Bishops have been running the Gilmanton Winery, in the former home of late author Grace Metalious, since 2011. They provided the court with Planning Board minutes from June 9, 2011, in which they say the Planning Board granted them final approval of a site plan.

Quotations from the minutes include "all permitting both state and local have been obtained" and that the application was "granted final approval, as it appears to meet all of the technical requirements of the ordinances and regulations of the Town of Gilmanton."

Recently though, the validity and finality of the site plan has come into question. In addition, the Bishops had been operating a restaurant without the "special exception" to the zoning ordinance they needed to do so. Marshall Bishop went before the town's Zoning Board of Adjustments a few months ago and received his special exception in a 4 to 1 vote.

However, according the to minutes of the Oct. 13 Planning Board meeting, Planning Board Vice-Chair Martin Martindale recommended that Bishop submit a new site plan application and begin the planning process anew. He went on to say that should the Bishops not file a new site plan by Nov. 10, the board should issue a cease-and-desist order that would stop him from operating. A motion to that effect passed by a 9 to 0 vote.

The Bishops say that for the five years their winery has been open, they have operated a thriving business. They also claim that when Marshall Bishop defeated former Selectman Brett Currier in the 2016 election for a one-year seat for selectman, Currier and his wife took out their own personal grudges on him and his business. He also claims that Planning Board Chair Wayne Ogni is a friend of the Curriers.

Legally, he claims that he has complied with all of the laws, regulations and ordinances of Gilmanton and the state and that he is willing to amicably address any "well-founded" concerns the Planning Board may have.

At the Oct. 13 Planning Board meeting, Bishop was asked to attend but sent a letter asking what specific information the Planning Board sought in regard to any violations of the laws and ordinances. He did not attend.

Bishop's attorney responded by saying that without knowing what specific laws or ordinances were being violated, having his client submit a complete new site plan was "premature."

Bishop's lawyer followed up with a second letter asking why the town had not responded to his first request for specific violations regarding the winery. He said the business was receiving letters of concern from its customers and that the Planning Board's actions were starting to harm the business, because people were reluctant to make reservations for the holidays since the board threatened to shut them down.

He restated that the Bishops desire to work with the Planning Board but said that his clients were willing to go to court to if the board continues to harm the business.

The Planning Board's attorney replied on Nov. 18 that the board insists that Bishop doesn't have an approved site plan and that when Bishop was told he needed to provide additional information, he replied that he was in full compliance. That letter contained the cease-and-desist order that was temporarily negated by both parties with the approval of the court.

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Former Lakeport Fire Station property to be put up for sale via open bid

LACONIA — After rejecting the offer by Erica Blizzard, who owns and operates the Lakeport Landing marina, to purchase the former Lakeport Fire Station building on Elm Street and a pair of adjoining lots, the City Council this week decided to put the properties up for sale by open, competitive bidding.

In September Blizzard offered to buy the three parcels, which together amount to less than half an acre, for their assessed land value of $127,700. Her offer fell on the heels of a settlement of a lawsuit she brought against the city challenging the council's sale of nearby property the city leased to Lakeport Landing Marina for 30 years then sold to its neighbor and competitor Irwin Marine, when the lease expired. With the rejection of the offer, the settlement is likely in jeopardy.

The lot housing the old Lakeport Fire Station is 0.32 acres and the lot abutting it to the rear of the building is 0.195 acres. The two lots include some 132 feet of municipal right-of-way — Railroad Avenue. The third lot, a 0.81 acre strip between Union Avenue and the railroad is what remains of the larger parcel the city had leased to Lakeport Landing but sold to Irwin Marine.

Following a non-public meeting on Monday night, Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) offered a motion to reject Blizzard's offer on the strength of a recent appraisal of the three parcels. He did not elaborate as to what those appraised values amounted to. Only Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) dissented and the motion carried five-to one.

Mayor Ed Engler said that the council has directed City Manager Scott Myers to present a plan on Dec. 12 for offering the properties for sale. Myers said that the lot lines would be redrawn to reestablish Railroad Avenue as a city street, shrinking the two largest lots. At the same time, a strip of land fronting Elm Street would be added to the lot housing the fire station.

Bidders for the property will be required to explain how and when they intend to redevelop it. Myers said that what he called a "a package deal" would include the proposed use of the three lots, the future of the fire station and the design of a new building and indicated that the council would expect the property to be redeveloped in a timely manner. He said that in weighing competitive bids the council expects to consider there and other factors alongside the bid prices in seeking to ensure the highest and best use of the property.

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