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Perry had no weapon — and no warning, she says: "He points the gun at this cleaning lady, who starts screaming. The manager comes out, and Randy's demanding money. She brings him to the cash register and opens it. He tells me to put all the money in my pockets. I'm grabbing at the money, and money is flying all over the place. Then he grabs my wrist again and we run."

Some men pursued them. Miller pointed his gun at them and they backed off. The couple returned, out of breath, to the apartment they shared with another woman who worked at DIA. Miller counted the haul, around $900 in currency and a few checks, which they destroyed. He told Perry they'd have to get out of town fast; by now the police probably had her fingerprints from the cash register. He was also upset that she hadn't seen fit to cover her face. Perry wasn't worried about that. "I was more concerned that he would leave me," she says.

On Friday morning, Ateba Bailey, a friend of Miller's from his days in juvie, dropped by the apartment. Bailey was also failing parole and determined not to go back to prison. He and Miller agreed that it was time to "breeze." But first they needed more cash and wheels. Miller had already procured the other necessary items: He produced two more Bryco Jennings 9-millimeters identical to his own — one for Bailey, one for Perry. Now they had a matching set.

Miller asked his roommate to drive them to the Wyoming border. (The roommate later told police that she was "the victim of a kidnapping" and, like Perry, had received no advance briefing of the crimes about to be committed. She was never charged in the case.) Miller seemed to be improvising as they went; before they reached the state line, he announced a plan to fake a breakdown outside of Cheyenne and then steal a car when someone stopped to help them. But after a few minutes of standing by the side of the road, trying to flag down motorists, he gave up the idea. Instead, he eyed an isolated house not far from the highway and announced his intention to go make a phone call.

Perry and the others followed him to the front door. A four-year-old girl answered the bell. She summoned her mother, and Miller went into a spiel about his car breaking down. Then he was through the door, politely asking if his friends could come in, too. Once the others were inside, he pulled his gun on the woman, demanding, "Who else is in the house? Where is your money?"

The father appeared from another room. Perry stood guard over the family as Bailey and Miller went through the house, searching for treasure. They tied up the family in the basement and took off with their car and several guns they found. But after a few minutes of aimless driving around, Miller began to cry. "We shouldn't have done that," he said.

They left the stolen car at a truck stop and caught a ride with the roommate back to Colorado. Bailey, Miller and Perry stayed with another friend in Westminster that night. But once their host saw all the guns, she told them they'd have to find other lodgings.

On Friday the trio checked into the Royal Host motel at Colfax and Colorado Boulevard. After breakfast they wandered into the Mayfair neighborhood, where Miller selected a house, seemingly at random, and knocked on the door. A woman answered. This time Perry knew exactly what to expect, because it was a replay of the Cheyenne robbery: Could I please use your phone? Is there anyone else in the house? Where is your money?

No children this time, thankfully. Just the woman and her father, money and a car. But Miller seemed more agitated than during the previous robberies, frantic to leave. As he headed for the door, Perry called out, "Randy." He turned around and belted her with the back of his hand. They piled into the stolen car and he drove wildly, swerving and nearly crashing.

"Why did you say that?" he screamed. "Now they know my name!"

Perry felt shut down, as if the blow had snapped something inside her. She got out at the Royal Host. Miller said he and Bailey would dump the car and come back with another one.

She could have left at that point. But she stayed put. She called Teresa but refused to tell her where she was. She says she was too passive, too deeply enmeshed in her doomed romance to believe in the possibility of an exit.

"I remember talking in circles, telling Teresa I had seen bad things happen," she says. "My responsibility all along was in not getting out of that relationship. I'm absolutely responsible for my own dysfunction and not getting help. I understand why people who are abused feel they can't do that. But when you watch something happen and you don't get help, there's a lot of culpability in that."

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33 comments
chipperthomas75
chipperthomas75

I doubt Tara will ever get to read this.  But she should know that even through concrete walls and steel bars she made an impact on my life.  I talked to her and remember watching her go from a 'sadgirl' to a 'sparkle'.  I miss her and I am glad to see and read that she is doing so good for herself, that she has made the best out of a bad situation.  I have no idea how to get a hold of her anymore or even where she is, but Brandon...or her mom..or her sister if you read this tell her to write her old friend in Wisconsin.  She has not only touched people there, but here as well.  She inspired me.

Do I feel bad for Tara?  No.  i am proud of her, not proud of what she did, but what she has done and continues to do with her life and faith.  Stay strong and keep Sparkling Tara.

Brandon or anyone in her family that reads this tell her the next time you talk to her or visit her that even after 10 years I still pray for her and you all.  God Bless you all!

Her old penpal Chris from Wisconsin

mevianne
mevianne

I really feel for Tara. Randy Miller surrounded himself with people that were impressionable, and that he could control. I knew him since he was 15, and was involved with him during the time Tara was. I did not know about Tara, and seperated myself from him during the last year of his life. In hindsight, it is hard to imagine getting so caught up in a person, knowing they are on the wrong path. But like Tara, I loved him and did many things I regret. Now, I work in the criminology field, and have a better understanding of youths involved in crime and the flawed American justice system. I feel Tara should be given a second chance to make a life for herself outside a cell.

alehound
alehound

I wonder if they cut up her hotdogs? o.0

Kelly Kettle
Kelly Kettle

We are www.12stepplanet.com and www.addictstoday.com. Please join us to fight the disease of drug and alcohol addiction/abuse. Please read our short stories of how we did it. If you have a success story that would help others please send it to: my12stepplanet@yahoo.com. We interface on FaceBook. We will support you in any type of recovery.

Lynne Jenkinson
Lynne Jenkinson

Forty Years is ridiculous. Why? what is the point? She was a child at the time probably attracted by the boyfriends bad boy image (as many wowmen are unfortunately) I suspect very strongly that he groomed her . She should be released so that she can get on with her life. She is more mature now people in Britain get less for murder I think that The American justice system is unnecesarily hard. The purpose of prison should be to reform .> How willshe cope with life if she is released in 30+ years time

Dolly Dagger
Dolly Dagger

Tara's getting screwed big time. Undoubtedly each of the persons who made/support this judgment is a "Christian" Republican/teabagger. They'll be happy to legislate their "values" and claim that they do "What Jesus Would Do". Sickening waste of a decent human being while THEY satisfy their biblical blood thirst. #FreeTara

Brandon Plante
Brandon Plante

I am Tara Perrys lil brother and i know what she did was bad. But she did Not deserve 44 years. And to all the people that say something like boo hoo, or that sucks, or some dumb ass remark, go fuck your self. To the rest of you kind people that want to support her, we thank you from the bottom of our heart. FREE TARA...

Missy
Missy

WOW! What a story! Kudos to her for taking responsibility for her part in the mess and turning herself around! It's hard when you come from only negative, and then make your life even more negative with really bad choices. But it sounds like she is doing what could be seen as the impossible. She's becoming the exception to the rule! You go girl!

Kathryn Elich
Kathryn Elich

Wish her the best - making the most out of a bad situation. Freeing your mind from crisis events is a full time job. And her surroundings keep reminding her of it. That they didn't have her down in the computer yet .... and she has to reapply when the glitch is fixed. Unreal.Wish her the best.

Living in Colorado
Living in Colorado

Wow. This young lady took a horrible situation, and has worked to change it. She could sit there and blame her mom, the boyfriend, even society for her current situation, but she has stood up and accepted responsbility for her actions, attempted to make amends and face it by meeting with the victims and help others do the same. I wish some of the "non convicts" were as caring as this young lady. I say they should review the case and let her go. We have all kinds of people released due to overcrowding and yet this young lady stays. How about letting her out and keeping that drug addict/prostitute who has been arrested 20 times in jail a little longer??????

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AnyBodyButObama 2012
AnyBodyButObama 2012

Yeah, blame a man for your own choices. Not only are men responsible for their own choices, this fool is trying to convince me that men are responsible for their choices. Typical feminist. There are 2 kinds of women, feminist and feminine. REAL men want feminine, nobody wants a feminist.

Tony
Tony

im usally a hard azz normally id say lock em all up for life but in this case she was young and the dude brainwashed her id say 13 years is long enough im sure she would be a model citizen now

Eochaid
Eochaid

This is one of the saddest stories I have ever heard in my 47 years on this mudball we live in,The judge in this case clearly tried to set an example with this young lady.And sentanced her very harshley,60 years for shooting the ceiling?Reduced to 40 years?She was only 16 years old,more than likely under the influence of drugs,or alchohol, and brain washed and or coerced in some way into participating in this crime.The powers that be ought to reconsider a bit of leiniency and mercy on a child that was taken advantage of by adult carreer criminals. P.W.

AlanPrendergast
AlanPrendergast

I appreciate all the comments we've been receiving about Tara's story, online and privately. One reader asked me to post information on how to support her parole application. The earliest hearing is still a couple of years away, but letters of support could be sent to her directly if people are so inclined:

Tara Perry, #104436Denver Women’s Correctional FacilityPO Box 392005Denver, CO 80239

Citizen Jenn
Citizen Jenn

This is another fantastic story, Alan, and I always look forward to reading your features.

I understand the arguments made for victim's rights, and I've heard the criticisms made about Westword being overly-sympathetic to convicted criminals, but it does no harm to read and try to understand the reasons why these people committed crimes; how they got from point A to point B, and these stories also offer some glimpses into our criminal justice and prison systems. Cases like this help me form the opinion that allowing parole for genuinely reformed, productive, remorseful prisoners would provide society with far more advantages than paying to feed and house them when there are other convicts who need to be fed and housed, and kept behind bars.

"The greatness of America is in how it treats its weakest members: the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped, the underprivileged, the unborn." ~Bill Federer

She was born and raised into a life of poverty, crime and violence, and while this is not an excuse for her behavior, these are reasons for it. It's difficult to predict how clemency will be received and acted upon in the future, but she seems like someone who would make good on a second chance at freedom.

Laura Jo Emry
Laura Jo Emry

I know Tara's story all too well... She is my baby sister.... In addition she is by far one of the most intelligent, resilient, amazing and humble people that I have ever met. The support she has received and continues to receive is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Pamela Clifton
Pamela Clifton

Thank you for this Alan. I know Tara and she is certainly no criminal. She's a lovely young lady who got mixed up with the wrong person. People make mistakes...children make bigger ones. She has paid for this many times over. If anyone deserves a second chance, it's Tara.

Perry1021
Perry1021

she is my neice ,set her free she is not a criminal ,

MMM
MMM

Dolly you are a fU#$ing BIGOT Democrat Liberal

Poindexter
Poindexter

Really?!? That's how you build up support for your sister (assuming you really are her brother)? As a reader I had some empathy for her story and situation... then you jump in here and tell anybody who doesn't to "fuck yourself." So now I question what kind of situation she's gonna return to with you in her life. I don't have any say in it (of course) but if it makes me question, it probably makes others as well. Not really the way to win hearts and minds...

Reynaloca713
Reynaloca713

Actually she blamed herself for not being able to say NO.

wyrob
wyrob

She was a MINOR. He was in his 20's. How does that figure into your dumbass ideals of what "REAL men" want?

femininevsfeminist
femininevsfeminist

Did you even read the article? How ignorant... Or maybe just illiterate. No blame was being placed on "a man". This young lady, has accepted not only her guilt, but also her punishment. P.s. the story was written by a man, guess he is a feminist.

Zuniga_natasha
Zuniga_natasha

I know Tara personally. We lives in the kind inn at three same time and went to the same school, walked home from school, my uncle was her uncle(Louis). She would have never done this if it weren't for randy. She was never that type Of person. She was a great and caring friend. She is still, to this day thought about and missed. She's not making excuses for her self or trying to blame it in a man, she's reeling her true story.

AnyBodyButObama 2012
AnyBodyButObama 2012

Yeah, blame a man for your own choices. Not only are men responsible for their own choices, this fool is trying to convince me that men are responsible for their choices. Typical feminist. There are 2 kinds of women, feminist and feminine. REAL men want feminine, nobody wants a feminist.

Perry1021
Perry1021

she is my neice and i apreciate your remarks greatly thanx Robert perry

wyrob
wyrob

yeah, I'm crying about the million it'll cost taxpayers to keep her in jail for 40 YEARS, for NOT killing or injuring anyone during crimes committed as a fucking minor!what the fuck were you crying about, nova?

Ticklemecute1
Ticklemecute1

And I suppose you never had it hard right (nova. What ever) the kid had it hard give her a break fuck nobodys perfect.. Good story my laura thanks for sharing

 
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