Kara Box fought back tears Thursday as she recalled the morning her common-law husband was shot to death in a dispute over a twin mattress in a dumpster.
“I stepped in between Aaron and John (Miller), then my ears started ringing from the gunshots,” Box said in a telephone interview from her home in Abilene as she sobbed. “I just screamed and screamed.”
Box talked about the fatal shooting just hours after releasing a video of the dispute between her husband, 37-year-old Aaron Howard, and his neighbors, John Miller, 67, and his son, Michael Miller, 31.
The 2-minute video captures the anger between the Millers and Howard on the morning of Sept. 1 in an Abilene neighborhood. Abilene is about 150 miles west of Fort Worth.
Box captured the tragic scene on her cellphone as she sought to gather evidence for Abilene police.
The Millers were arrested shortly after the shooting and they have been charged with murder. The two were released after posting $25,000 bail.
A man who answered the phone at the Miller home declined to comment about the case on Thursday.
Box released the video to let residents know exactly what happened that morning.
Box said they had moved to that Abilene home in April, but they had never talked to the Millers until the morning of Sept. 1. The Millers were next-door neighbors.
“We had thrown out a twin mattress in a dumpster in our alley a few days before the shooting,” Box said. “You have to have the mattress in the dumpster or they will not haul it away.”
On the morning of Sept. 1, Box and Howard were in the backyard when they saw the mattress was on their property. Howard tossed it back in the dumpster.
Box said that’s when John Miller came to the alley, pulled the mattress out of the dumpster and tossed it back on Howard’s property.
Howard told Miller to put it back in the dumpster. Miller cursed at Howard and told him he wasn’t going to do that, Box said.
“That’s when John (Miller) pulled a pistol out of his shorts,” she said. Box noted that Howard’s nieces and nephews had been with them in the backyard.
“Aaron goes into pappa bear mode,” Box said. “A man has just pulled a gun on his wife, his brother, his nieces and nephews.”
A tense conversation ensues between Howard, who is not armed, and John and Michael Miller, who arrives on the scene armed with a shotgun.
Howard threatens to kill the Millers, and the Millers repeatedly curse at Howard, according to the video.
As tempers flare, Box steps in between her husband and John Miller. Howard’s brother has handed him a baseball bat by this time, but he never swung it, his wife said.
“If you come within 3 feet of me, I’m going to kill you,” Miller tells Howard. Seconds later, two gunshots are heard. The video also shows Michael Miller firing the shotgun after the first two shots are fired.
Box starts screaming, “No, no, Aaron!” after her husband is shot in the chest and head.
“I ran to Aaron and for a second I thought he was going to be OK, but he didn’t make it,” Box said.
Box said John Miller walked up to her and put the handgun to her head, yelling at her to get on the ground. She said Michael Miller went over to Aaron’s brother, placed the shotgun to his head, and ordered him to the ground.
Abilene police arrived a few minutes later responding to a report of shots being fired in the neighborhood.
Box says she has moved out of the neighborhood, but remains in Abilene.