SPRING HILL — Like a flip book, the photographs tell the story of her life's collapse.
At her 2008 senior prom, a beautiful brunet, glowing in a mint green dress. In summer 2009, a beaming new mom and her boyfriend with their 6-month-old little boy fitted in dress clothes.
Then, a year later, the first arrest photo: her hair frizzed and her angry stare directed off camera. A second mug shot came on April 25 after an arrest for methamphetamine possession. Blond hair dye had replaced the natural brown; skin pocked and eyes glassy.
Earlier this month, the latest photograph; her face red and eyes hollow. Brittany Elizabeth Miles, 21, accused of murder.
Close friends believe they know the moment her once-promising life derailed. At 8:37 p.m. on April 12, 2009, a drunken driver veered through an intersection in Spring Hill and collided with her car. For Miles, prescription pills from a pain management clinic soon followed, as did a devastating addiction.
Two years after that night, on May 10, she was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence in Hudson. According to authorities, this is what happened next: Miles told a deputy she'd had seven drinks. Through an open window, she escaped from the back of a sheriff's cruiser and nearly killed a Pasco deputy as she fled. Then, with deputies in pursuit, her pickup barreled through the intersection of U.S. 19 and County Line Road and slammed into a 66-year-old motorcyclist named Henry F. McCain, a quiet, caring man who had worked in the funeral business all of his life.
Just 8 miles from where the drunken driver had crashed into Miles' car, authorities say, McCain died in the middle of the road as she sped away.
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About 12 hours earlier, Miles — the daughter of a Hernando County sheriff's deputy — stood in a Brooksville mobile home as Gina Fleenor, 16, shuffled through groceries.
Miles often stayed there. She and Gina's stepbrother, Oliver Bevins Jr., had a 2-year-old blond, blue-eyed son together.
Gina and Miles debated Walmart's Coconut Wave soda. Gina liked it, but Miles thought it tasted awful. They both laughed. Miles had always laughed easily.
She then straightened her hair and left in a red 2002 Dodge Ram she borrowed from Bevins. Miles drove to the Brass Flamingo — a club in Port Richey where she stripped and danced under the stage name "Liza."
About 2 a.m., a manager said, a club employee escorted Miles outside following a dispute. As she peeled out in the pickup, she tried to run him over.
Throughout the early morning, three people called 911 to report a woman — Miles — who "was definitely on something" veering into ditches and crashing into a pole and a sign.
Back at the mobile home, the phone rang midmorning. Gina's mom, Kehli Fleenor, answered to find her husband on the line. "Brittany," he said, "just killed somebody."
• • •
As a kid, Miles was in the safety patrol program. She was proud to help. "In grade school, she never got in trouble," Kehli Fleenor said. "She was a good girl."
At Central High School, her mother, Deputy Debra Miles, worked as the school resource officer, and students there loved her. She cheered at sports games, consoled kids who needed it and occasionally broke up fights.
Some classmates who knew Brittany Miles back then didn't think she took drugs, but said she ran with the "drinking" crowd. Still, people say she wasn't a troublemaker. Miles was a good student, played soccer and walked with her 2008 graduating class.
Just before her senior year, she and Bevins started dating. In February 2009, they had a son, Oliver Bevins III. A blissful child, he smiled for pictures, called all of his stuffed animals "baby" and especially liked the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
"She and my brother," Gina said, "were always happy to be having baby Oliver."
Then, two months later, the drunken driver plowed into Miles' car.
"That's when the pills started," Kehli Fleenor said. "It goes from taking pills for pain to taking the pills to get high."
Miles worked at Felony's Bar and Grill in Spring Hill for about four months last year before being fired for poor performance, a manager said. A year ago, a Hernando County deputy spotted Bevins and Miles arguing outside a car in Spring Hill. As he approached the couple, a report said, Bevins shoved Miles into the vehicle. Bevins, 23, was convicted of domestic battery.
Miles then began dating John Colon, who had been arrested 11 times and convicted of battering a pregnant woman in 2005. In August, she and Colon, 25, had a fight. Colon, a report said, flipped a bed on top of her and Miles threw a bottle at him. Both were arrested.
Miles later told deputies Colon attacked her again in early January, wrapping a belt around her neck, saying he would kill her, pulling a knife and threatening to kidnap her son.
• • •
One night in late March, Miles danced for the first and only time at Lollipop's strip club in Hudson. As the night waned, a fight filtered into the parking lot, and she was at the heart of it.
Natalia Ortiz watched the brawl from the barbershop where her husband worked. As it dissipated, Ortiz walked outside. Miles, in nothing but a bra and panties, walked up and confronted her. "Are you the b---- who hit me?" Ortiz said no, but Miles didn't listen. Reports said she threw Ortiz to the ground, punched her and ripped out clumps of her hair. Flustered, Ortiz waived her right to prosecution that night but later changed her mind. The case is still open.
"There was no reasoning with her," said Ortiz. "She was like a crazed person."
Miles' neighbors at Bridgewater Club Apartments in Spring Hill thought she was paranoid and, clearly, on drugs. A judge ordered her eviction in March, but she was still living there the day of the fatal accident.
Miles seldom unlocked her unit's front door. Sometimes when she came home, neighbors said, she would drive over the curb and up to the building, hop on the truck's hood and climb through the second-story window. The electricity was turned off, so she always left the windows open.
"You could just tell she was on drugs," said neighbor Tyler Vitko, 18, who noted that Miles often changed clothes outside and had many male visitors. Vitko had also watched Miles pace outside in a towel or scantily dressed and loudly insist to someone on the phone that she didn't take drugs.
"I don't do coke!" he remembered her once screaming.
At times, Debra Miles came by to look for her daughter, but Miles would park the truck on the other side of the complex. When one neighbor told Miles her mom had stopped by, she simply responded: "Yeah, I know. I've just been hiding from her."
• • •
Of all her stepbrother's girlfriends through the years, Miles had always been Gina's favorite. She let Gina try on her fanciest shoes before homecoming in October.
Miles has called the house a few times since she was jailed. She spoke to Kehli Fleenor's husband, Oliver Bevins Sr.
"Oliver, I'm sorry. I'm sorry this happened," Kehli Fleenor recalled her telling him. "I'm not a bad person, please believe me."
Bevins gets his son on the weekends; Debra Miles and her husband, Edward, care for him during the week, Kehli Fleenor said, adding that the morning of Miles' recent arrest, she was scheduled to be in court to discuss a case plan related to her son.
Her parents, who declined to be interviewed, are distraught, friends say. Miles talks to her mom on the phone now and then. She begs for help, but Debra Miles can only listen.
"Brittany cries and has been crying to her mother. 'Please don't let me die,' " Kehli Fleenor said. " 'Please don't let them kill me.' "
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy, staff writer Erin Sullivan and photojournalist Will Vragovic contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or email@example.com.