Elderly woman dies in Fairview Twp. house fire

Fund started to replace Hellam Twp. farmer's stolen Mule

Liz Evans Scolforo

Hellam Township farmer Marlyn Miller shouldn't have to save up for another two years before replacing his stolen four-wheeler, according to one local man.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016--Marlyn Miller is joined by his son's dog, Dotty, outside the pole building which held the 2002 Kawasaki Mule the pair used to get them around his farm. The vehicle was stolen on Christmas Eve.

That's why Kevin Heiser, also of Hellam Township, created an online fundraising campaign through GoFundMe.com on Wednesday after reading a York Dispatch article about Miller's predicament.

The page is called "Replace Marlyn's stolen Mule (ATV)" and can be found at www.gofundme.com/j8kawju4. The California-based online crowd-funding platform allows people to raise money for a variety of reasons, according to the site.

"I feel terrible for the guy," Heiser said. "It's awful someone would steal from him."

Miller, who is 84½, has farmed his land on East Ore Bank Road for 56 years, he said. He now rents out some of the land, and his son, Marlyn "Butch" Miller, farms some of it. Together, the father and son keep their farm running.

The elder Miller spent two years saving money to buy a utility vehicle that would let him zip around the farm. Last summer, he bought a used green 2002 Kawasaki Mule from a man in Red Lion.

The widower said he would use it to haul hay bales, cart firewood and to simply get around the property more easily.

Neighbor Robert Arthur said Miller was constantly riding around on the four-wheeler, often taking Butch Miller's dog, Dotty, along with him. Butch Miller also gave Dotty rides on the Mule, because she loved them so much, Arthur said.

Longtime Hellam Twp. farmer loses Mule in burglary

Break-in: Sometime on Christmas Eve, burglars broke into the Millers' pole building and stole the Mule.

Four young men, perhaps teens, are suspected in that burglary as well as several others, Hellam Township Police Detective Justin Golder has said. On Tuesday, he provided The York Dispatch with surveillance video that shows the group fleeing from a property where they'd broken into a shed, according to the detective.

That also happened on Christmas Eve, at a property about a half-mile from the Miller farm, Golder said, and are likely connected. The detective said he suspects Miller's Mule was left crashed somewhere in nearby woods, although several foot searches have failed to find it.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call York County 911 and ask to speak with a Hellam Township officer. Residents who prefer to use a non-emergency number to reach 911 can call (717) 840-2971 or call Hellam Township Police at (717) 434-1310.

Independent: The elder Miller — who spent Wednesday morning dealing with a clogged chimney and farm chores — was clearly moved when told about the fundraising effort, although he seemed to struggle briefly over the idea of accepting such a gift.

"It's hard, because I've been independent all my life," he said. Then, he simply expressed gratitude.

"There are a lot of wonderful people out there," Miller said.

Butch Miller was delighted when told of Heiser's campaign.

"That's a really swell idea," he said, noting it would take a long time for his father to save up enough money to replace the Mule.

Folks 'generous': Heiser, who said he's friends with some of the Millers' friends, predicted the fundraising campaign will be successful.

"People are generous, and when they see a story like this, they'll give," he said.

It's been nearly a month since the burglary, Heiser said, and it's time to get Miller back on a Mule.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.

Hellam Twp. farmer Butch Miller regularly gave rides to his dog, Dotty, in this used Kawasaki Mule his father saved up for two years to buy. The Mule was stolen on Christmas Eve 2015. (Photo courtesy of Robert Arthur)