Hellam Twp. farmer's stolen Mule found in Susquehanna River

Liz Evans Scolforo

Farmer Marlyn Miller's Mule has been recovered, police confirmed — found ditched in the Susquehanna River less than seven miles from the Hellam Township farm where it was stolen on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016--Marlyn Miller is joined by his son's dog Dotty, a border collie/Labrador retriever mix, inside the pole building which housed the 2002 Kawasaki Mule the pair used to get them around his farm. The vehicle was stolen on Christmas Eve.

Miller's Kawasaki four-wheeler was stolen from his pole building during a burglary spree in the area, police have said.

Hellam Township Police Chief Mark Sowers confirmed a duck hunter found the Mule off Gut Road in Saginaw, hauled it out of the water and called the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. That was also on Christmas Eve, the chief said.

Butch Miller, Marlyn Miller's son, said he was told the the Mule isn't in good shape, and he fears it's trashed.

"Someone put a rock on the gas pedal and ran it into the river," he said.

Sowers theorized the Mule became hung up on rocks or debris. He said he's unsure whether it was fully submerged.

No serial number: Fish & Boat Commission officers were unable to find a serial number on the Mule, according to Sowers. They alerted Northeastern Regional Police but had no reason to notify Hellam Township Police, the chief confirmed.

"They've just been storing it," Sowers said of the state agency.

Longtime Hellam Twp. farmer loses Mule in burglary

The Mule's fate was revealed by the duck hunter after he read about it in The York Dispatch, the chief confirmed.

"The guy who found it read the article," Sowers said. "He called us and said, 'Hey, Fish & Boat has the vehicle.'"

Butch Miller said he's been told by police that the Mule will be dropped off at the farm.

New leads: Sowers said the investigation into the Millers' burglary is progressing.

"We have gotten some new leads and we're following them up," he said.

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

Marlyn Miller, 84½, has been farming his land on East Ore Bank Road for 56 years, and now does so with his son Butch.

He said he saved up his money for two years and in August was able to buy a used 2002 Kawasaki Mule. The widower used it to haul hay bales, cart firewood and to simply get around the property more easily, he said.

'A shame': The Millers often gave Butch's dog, Dotty, Mule rides around the farm because she loved them so much, neighbor Robert Arthur said.

"It's a shame," Arthur said of the burglary.

Four young men, perhaps teens, are suspected of committing that burglary as well as several others, township Detective Justin Golder said.

Police released surveillance video that shows the group fleeing from a property where they'd broken into a shed. That burglary also happened on Christmas Eve, about a half-mile from the Miller farm, Golder said.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call York County 911 or its non-emergency number, (717) 840-2971. Or call Hellam Township Police at (717) 434-1310.

GoFundMe: Hellam Township resident Kevin Heiser has started a fundraising campaign to replace the elder Miller's Mule.

"I feel terrible for the guy," Heiser said.

As of Thursday evening, nearly $3,200 had been raised so far. To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/j8kawju4.

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

Butch Miller said he was moved by "the goodness in people's hearts."

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