Murder victim shot 8 times with rifle, body dumped in Prouty Run Creek
COUDERSPORT – Two men accused of murdering Samuel E. Miller, of Eldred, PA, have been arraigned in District Judge Annette Easton’s courtroom.
Nineteen-year-old Jonothan ‘Jeep’ Prather, of Coudersport, and 25-year-old Avery ‘Bud’ Buckingham, of Austin, have been arraigned on first-degree murder charges and remanded to the Potter County Jail without bail.
Potter County District Attorney Andy Watson said Miller, who was found dead in the Prouty Run River two days ago, had been shot 8 times.
Authorities believe Miller may have been killed because Prather and Buckingham thought he was a ‘snitch’.
Sources tell CoudyNews the two men arrested for his murder, a teen girl, and Miller may have been involved in a recent burglary. Prather and Buckingham allegedly shot Miller to keep him from talking to police.
According to an affidavit filed in Annette Easton’s courtroom, Buckingham told police during an interview that he had been involved in the murder of Miller, and that Prather had been talking about killing Miller for three weeks, because he was a ‘snitch’.
Buckingham told police he was picked up by Prather and two unidentified juveniles on June 4, for the purpose of murdering Miller. He said the four of them drove to Port Allegany, picked up Miller, and then drove to Wal-mart in Bradford where they purchased a spotlight with the intention of ‘luring Miller back with them.”
Police say after leaving Wal-mart, the five traveled to Coudersport, where one juvenile girl, believed to be the sister of one of the teenagers, was dropped off.
They later drove to an area of Prouty Road, exited the vehicle, and went for a walk into the woods where they built a campfire. According to statements made by Buckingham, Prather had taken a .22 caliber rifle with him during the walk.
When the four returned to the vehicle, Prather put the gun back in the truck they were driving.
Then, as Miller bent over, Prather took the rifle from the truck and pointed it at Miller. Miller then reportedly told Prather not to the point the rifle at him. Prather responded by telling Miller he was not going to shoot him.
Moments later, Miller bent over again, at which point Prather is accused of shooting him point-blank in the back of the head, and then ‘emptying his clip into Miller’, before reloading two more shells and shooting him twice more in the head.
An official autopsy showed Miller had been shot 3 times in the head and 5 times in the torso.
Police say during an interview with the teenage girl and her parents, she told them where to find the murder weapon; a .22 cal. rifle, which was recovered from an attic.
According to police, Prather admitted to shooting Miller in the back of the head at close range, and then shooting him ten more times. Prather also told police he reloaded two more shells and shot Miller in the temple, “because he wanted to make sure he was dead and didn’t want him to suffer.”
After killing Miller, Prather and Buckingham allegedly dragged his body to the nearby Prouty Run Creek, at which point they threw his body in the water.
The juvenile female who accompanied the men told police she heard a gunshot and then Miller’s body fall. She also told police the men later had her hold a light while they moved the body to the creek, at which point she heard the splash from his body being dumped in the water.
She also told police Prather and Buckingham threatened her saying, “snitches get stitches”, and similar circumstances could befall her, if she talked about the murder.
The juvenile female is also facing murder charges in the first-degree.
According to Buckingham’s Facebook page, the Austin man claims to be a member of the ‘Bloods’. A passage from his self-description reads,
I WHUS BORN WITH ONE FOOT N THE GRAVE IMMA BLOOD SO IMMA DIE N A POOL OF BLOOD’NOW TELL ME WHUH THE F*** U GUNNA DO?!?!HOW CKAN I HAVE LOVE N MY HEART WHEN ERR TYME I LOVE SUMTHIN IT GETS TAKEN AWAY FRM ME.US BL0ODS WE AR0UND!AINT NUN BUT KILLAS N THIS BITCKH NOBODY CKAN STOP US U’LL DIE TRYIN.WEAR RED ALL DAY.ROCCK RED OR UR DEAD PLAIN N SIMPLE.HAD MY HEART BROKKIN SO MANY TYMES WISH I CKOULD FIND A GURL THAT WULD KEEP IT REAL WID ME.BUT IF U AGAINST US DEN F**** U U’LL GET BURIED ALIVE!BL0OD TILL THA DAY I DIE!ANYTHING ELSE YU WANNA KNOW JUS ASK BUT A WORD OR WARNING DONT ASK TO MUCKH BOUT ME IM NOT F****** STUPID TO TELL U EVERYTHING BOUT ME.
Sources tell CoudyNews Buckingham spoke of killing people on a daily basis; an accusation seemingly substantiated by the above quote. Buckingham’s Facebook profile picture is currently that of a handgun. Of fifty some photos he made public on the social networking site, most depict violence and represent gang association, specifically the Los Angeles gang known as the ‘Bloods’.
If convicted of first-dregree murder, Prather and Buckingham may face the death penalty, or life in prison.
This article has been updated several times.
NOTE: Earlier it was reported that two Austin men were arrested by State Police in what was believed to be a connection to this murder. Information has come to light that the two men, while friends of Buckingham, were arrested on unrelated charges. More on those charges in a later article.