ELKHART — It was a bittersweet atmosphere at the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 88 of Elkhart Saturday, as friends and family of Mark Miller celebrated his life.
Several family members and friends gathered to host the fundraiser, in which all proceeds would go to Miller’s children. They brought bands, held raffles and invited tattoo artists who did their work and raised money for the same cause.
Tracy Cohee, a close friend to the family, said the atmosphere was generally positive with a good number of people in attendance who knew Miller or had heard of him and wanted to support the cause.
“After a period of time some people will forget,” she said. “We thought this (fundraiser) is it for Mark. We wanted to have one last good gift for his children.”
Despite the celebration, there was an overbearing sentiment of sadness. Cohee said it was difficult not to think or miss Miller on Thanksgiving.
“Out first Thanksgiving without him was hard, and Christmas will be harder,” she said. “Christmas was his favorite holiday. He loved watching his kids unwrap his presents.”
Miller, 44, of Dunlap, was reported missing Sept. 7; he was last seen at his Dunlap tattoo shop. Two weeks later, his body was found in a barrel, floating in the St. Joseph River about 10 feet from the south bank, just west of the Six Span Bridge.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department has not arrested anyone, and continues to investigate the case. On Oct. 23, police served a search warrant at a residence in Bristol in connection to the case, but no one was arrested.
Various family members expressed their hope to get some sort of an answer to all their questions surrounding the homicide.
“We’re not over it; I feel like they took something very important from me,” said Karla Parker, Miller’s niece.
April Gardner, Miller’s sister, said she hopes to hear some good news related to the case, so that the family gets some relief.
“I have my good days and I have my bad days, but it hurts the most when I think about it,” she said. “I just wish they solved the case and we all knew who did it.”