The family of a 17-year-old Rockville girl killed by a U.S. Army recruiter who then took his own life has filed a claim against the Army, accusing it of negligence.
The claim, filed by the family of Michelle Miller, charges the Army with improperly supervising Adam Anthony Arndt, 31. Had they monitored Arndt more closely, they would have discovered that he wrote sexually suggestive comments to potential recruits and had written poetry online discussing suicide, the family argued in the claim.
“It was only because of a complete abdication of supervision responsibilities that [Arndt] was able to begin an inappropriate sexual relationship with Michelle Miller culminating with her unfortunate death,” the claim reads.
George Wright, a U.S. Army spokesman, declined to comment about the specifics of Miller’s claim.
In a lengthy interview, Kevin Miller, father of the victim, talked about his daughter, her April 8 death and what he’s learned about Arndt since.
Miller said he tried to discourage Michelle from joining the Army Reserve. But Michelle’s enthusiasm didn’t come as a surprise; as a fourth grader, she wore camouflage to class so many times that she got in trouble with her teachers.
As her graduation from Rockville High School neared, Michelle enlisted in the reserves and was preparing for basic training and psychology studies at the University of Arizona, he said. She wanted to counsel soldiers returning from war.
“She’d done a lot of thinking about it,” her dad said.
Michelle talked about Arndt a lot when she first met him. Her father remembered Michelle telling him: “This guy’s so cool; his wife’s so pretty.”
Arndt was a native of Manitowoc, Wis., and had served in the Army since October 2003, according to Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman Kathleen Welker. He served tours in South Korea in 2004 and Germany in 2007 and deployed to Turkey for a year before being assigned to Gaithersburg, she said.
The night before Michelle’s body was found, Kevin Miller said, she came downstairs about 9 p.m. Her mother was in the kitchen, clipping their dog Chloe.
She told Placita, Miller’s wife, “I’ve got to go out. One of my platoon members is feeling suicidal. I gotta help him out.”
“As soon as she left, I just got bad feelings,” her father recalled.
It wasn’t until the next morning that Miller found his daughter’s car at Arndt’s home. No one answered the door. The lights were all off.
“That’s when I got really scared,” he said.
He waited for what seemed like hours after calling police, who forced their way into the house, he said.
When two officers came out and stood on either side of him, “that’s when I knew she was dead,” he said. “There was kind of a haze then.”
Police discovered the two bodies sitting in the shower, with Michelle appearing to be kissing Arndt on the cheek or whispering in his ear. Arndt had shot her through the left temple before shooting himself, investigators told Miller.
“This guy was supposed to be her mentor,” Miller said. “Instead he chose to use her. Maybe he needed to kill her to make him kill himself.”
Miller saw dozens of Facebook messages that Arndt had sent Michelle, he said. Arndt also started texting Michelle before she’d officially signed on as a recruit.
“Had I seen any of that [earlier], I would have been in the recruiting station,” he said.
Personal communication is forbidden between recruiters and recruits, according to Welker of the Army Recruiting Command.