Surgeon: Wandering teen starved to death©Associated Press
October 22, 2002
PHILADELPHIA -- The surgeon who treated an emaciated Pennsylvania teen who died searching for his estranged father in Florida last month believes that the boy starved to death, according to records provided to defense lawyers Monday.
Chester Lee Miller, 18, died Sept. 25, four days after he knocked on a stranger's door in Milton, the Panhandle town where he once lived, asking for help.
Doctors said the teen weighed just 62 pounds after completing a two-day bus trip from his mother's home in Hazleton, Pa., to Milton. Before he died, Miller told police that his mother and her live-in boyfriend in Hazleton had abused him, stopped feeding him, then put him on a bus to Florida to look for his dad, whom he hadn't seen in more than a year.
An autopsy listed the cause of death as a bacterial infection caused by a ruptured stomach. Prosecutors on Monday gave defense lawyers an opinion from Dr. Robert Althar, a surgeon at Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, that the teen's stomach injury was a result of starvation.
An attorney for Paul Hoffman Sr., the 38-year-old short-order cook charged with mistreating Miller, said the diagnosis is inconclusive because it doesn't reveal why the teen wasn't getting enough to eat.
Hoffman and the boy's mother, Lyda Miller, 37, have been charged with aggravated assault, a felony, and two misdemeanors.
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