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PLATTE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -
A 31-year-old Trimble man has been charged with the beating and suffocating death of two sisters.
Authorities found the bodies of Britny Haarup, 19, and Ashley Key, 22, in a rural Clinton County field late Sunday night. They were identified by jewelry and tattoos on their bodies. The pair of sisters disappeared from a Platte County home Friday.
Miller led investigators to the bodies, according to authorities. He claimed he was high on drugs when he killed the two women.
Clifford D. Miller has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. A first-degree murder conviction requires a life in prison sentence without possibility of parole.
However, Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said he will review the case in the coming weeks and months to determine whether to see the death penalty as allowed by Missouri law.
"My daughters, Ashley Lynn Key and Britny Marie Haarup, were very wonderful people," their emotional father, Paul Haarup, said Monday morning after prosecutors announced the charges. "Their short lives are not going to be forgotten."
But Haarup and others are struggling to handle their grief.
"Because of this situation, we've been sentenced to life," he said.
Grieving friends who knew the two women through Park Hill South High School gathered at Parkville's English Landing for a vigil. Emotions have been churning for days and some are angry.
The sisters were reported missing Friday after Haarup's fiance, Matt Meyers, came home to find his two baby daughters alone in the same crib and their mother nowhere to be found. Family members told KCTV5 that they saw blood on a couch and four guns missing from the house. Meyers immediately notified the police department.
A white 2002 Dodge Ram pickup that had been parked outside the Edgerton home was also reported missing.
On Saturday morning, the truck was found in the Trimble area. Investigators said Miller was seen driving the truck after it was known to have been missing. He was also selling guns similar to those missing from the scene.
"This was an intense investigation to identify Miller as the suspect and develop the case against him. It included extensive searches for the women and other evidence in three different counties. Sadly, based on evidence we collected, we determined the women were dead before the search began," Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson said.
Miller was taken into custody Sunday and admitted to being high on methamphetamine and going to Haarup's residence. During an interview with detectives, Miller allegedly admitted going to the home with the intention of having sex with Haarup, who was the younger sister.
Haarup and her fiance used to live in Trimble next door to Miller and his mother. Haarup and her fiance had moved to the house in Edgerton. Key moved in about a week earlier.
"He intended to have sex with Britny. He never had sex with her before, but he had known her for a while," Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson said. "He was attracted to her."
When Miller entered the house just before dawn Friday, he was surprised to find Key asleep on the couch, authorities said. When she woke up, she challenged his presence. Authorities said Miller began to punch Key and beat her, then he smothered her with a pillow until she quit moving.
After killing her sister, Miller changed his intentions toward Haarup, Anderson said.
"His intention to have sex with Britny turned to killing her," the sheriff said.
Miller said he went to Haarup's bedroom and hit her with a blunt object and proceeded to smother her with a pillow, authorities said.
Miller then allegedly attempted to have sex with Haarup. He then smoked more meth, authorities said.
Miller believes he was in the house for about one hour. He attempted to clean up the blood covering the house. Haarup's 5-month-old daughter was in the room where her mother lay dead. Miller moved the baby to the crib where Haarup's 18-month-old daughter was. Miller did not harm either girl, authorities said.
Miller told authorities he wrapped the bodies in linens. He placed the bodies in the truck before dumping them on a farm. He then went home and showered. Authorities then found Miller at his girlfriend's residence in Parkville.
"Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of prayer from everyone nationwide. My daughters were very wonderful people. Their short lives will not be forgot. The three granddaughters left behind will be very aware of how wonderful their mothers were," Paul Haarup said. "They are never going to have a chance to see their mother's smile."
Haarup struggled to contain his emotions during the news conference and sank to the floor as authorities read off the horrifying details of Miller's alleged crimes. Haarup said he had received copious amounts of oxygen before the news conference.
Haarup said he is focused on remembering "two amazing lives" and caring for his grandchildren. He singled out his older daughter's valor in trying to protect her baby sister. Key had moved in with her younger sister in an effort to get away from a troublesome crowd. Key was on the right track and her past had nothing to do with Miller's actions.
"She was making an attempt to protect her sister. So by no means in any of this is there a dark shadow cast on my daughter Ashley," Haarup said.
Key's 4-year-old daughter was not at the house where her mother was killed. She's now with her father. Haarup's fiance has custody of his daughter now and her older daughter is with her father.
"Our duty is to make sure that the three granddaughters left behind are very aware of how special their mothers are," Haarup said.
Miller is being held in the Platte County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
He was arrested early Monday at the apartment where his young child and girlfriend live. He has an extensive criminal history, according to Platte County court records.
In May 2000, Miller pleaded guilty to reckless driving. He served 10 days in jail and was sentenced to probation.
In 2007, he was charged with unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to community service and placed on probation.
In 2010, Miller faced a driving-under-the-influence charge as a persistent offender. He was sentenced to three years, but placed on supervised probation.
Reporters asked Zahnd if Miller should have received a stiffer sentence.
"The charge for DWI," he said. "This man was treated the way the vast majority of DWI cases are treated."
He now faces the possibility of life in prison or even the death penalty if convicted.
And Harrup and others who loved the two women face tough days ahead. They know the community's support will help them during their time of grief.
"There's power in prayer, it does amazing things," Haarup said.
If you would like to assist the family, a memorial fund has been created.
Donations can be made to:
The Haarup and Key Memorial Kansas City Police Credit Union 2800 East 14th St. Kansas City, MO 64127
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.