Classmate Charged In Cheerleader's 1982 Stabbing Death

The high school football captain dating a beautiful cheerleader is a stalwart of small-town tradition, but what happens when a handsome athlete harbors evil in his soul?

January 05, 2022
Retha Stratton is a white female with blonde hair who was murdered in 1982. In this sepia toned photo, she's wearing a red cheerleading outfit and is standing in front of a brown wood door.

Retha Stratton

Photo by: via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

Something was wrong in River Oaks, Texas, in the early 1980s. First, a Castleberry High School cheerleader was attacked and nearly raped in January of 1981. The attacker disguised himself with a stocking over his face and sexually assaulted then-16-year-old Susan Davis in her home. Her assailant abruptly left before actually raping her.

In November of 1981, another young woman home alone in the nearby town of Saginaw was raped by a man in a mask. A month later, on December 7, 1981, a recently graduated Castleberry High School cheerleader, Lisa Gabbert, was raped. Similar to her squadmate and the young woman in Saginaw, 18-year-old Gabbert was alone in her room when a masked man attacked and raped her.

The horror continued the next day when Gabbert’s neighbor across the street was also raped. The victim was the younger sister of a Castleberry cheerleader who had been dating the former high school football captain, 19-year-old Wesley Wayne Miller.

Gabbert told police that her attacker was built like the football star, though nobody believed the recent high school graduate was actually behind the attacks. According to a 2007 CBS News report, police at the time never questioned Miller or showed his photo to victims in an attempt to ID him.

A Horrifying Find

Two Castleberry High School alumni from the 1981 graduating class, Retha Stratton and Amy Moody, had become roommates sharing a small home in the Fort Worth area in early 1982.

On January 21, 1982, Moody came home and made a gruesome discovery—Retha’s bloody body was lying in the hall, a knife still sticking out of her chest. According to CBS, it took police only a few hours to zero in on Wesley Miller. After Stratton’s murder, he went back to his girlfriend’s house where he explained away blood on his jeans as a touch football injury.

Retha Stratton is a white female with blonde hair who was murdered in 1982. In this sepia toned photo, she wears green shorts and a white t-shirt and is standing on a walkway in front of a brick building on a high school campus.

Retha Stratton

Photo by: via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

At the time, people who knew Miller described him as an above-average student with no prior disciplinary issues.

At trial, Miller was sentenced to 25 years for murdering Stratton, though there was some difficulty connecting him to the majority of the rapes. Texas, which has a reputation as tough on crime, actually released Miller on parole in 1991 after just 10 years behind bars under a law aimed at reducing overcrowding in prison.

Miller spent the 1990s and early 2000s in and out of prison for violating terms of his parole or for allegedly committing other crimes.

In this black and white photo, Wesley Miller, a white male with dark hair wears a dark suit and tie in a courtroom. Miller, who was convicted of the murder of Retha Stratton, is escorted by an officer of the law.

Wesley Miller

Photo by: via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

via Investigation Discovery "Murder Under the Friday Night Lights"

Stratton’s sister, Rona, advocated for Texas to pass a law that allows sexually dangerous criminals to be civilly committed. In 2007, a jury agreed that the motive for the 1982 murder was sexually motivated, thus making Miller eligible for civil commitment. That meant he became a resident of a halfway house and was monitored by GPS and was mandated to attend counseling. There was also a list of rules and restrictions for him to follow, which included not having contact with anybody without permission from his case manager.

By 2009, Miller had violated his civil commitment conditions three times and was sent back to prison for another 10 years.

Where is Miller now? Watch Murder Under The Friday Night Lights on ID to find out.

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