Bobby and Cheryl Love have a beautiful love story, but some might say it’s not really romantic. They have lived together for 40 years, so you might think that they have everything figured out and they hold the secret to a good marriage. It may have been true on the surface, but Bobby had one particular detail about his past that Cheryl knew nothing about. She eventually found out – from the most unlikely source at that – and it changed everything.
Not Your Typical Morning
One morning in January 2015, Cheryl woke up and started her morning routine the way she usually did while her husband, Bobby, continued to sleep in their bedroom. Then, there was a knock on the door. She told Humans of New York in an interview, “I opened it slowly and saw the police standing there.”
For years, a “crazy lady” had lived next door to the married couple, and they knew the police often came and checked in on her, so Cheryl thought they must have knocked at the wrong door.
“At first I wasn’t worried, but the moment I opened the door, twelve officers came barging past me,” Cheryl said. At the time, she had no idea yet that this marked the moment that her world would be totally shaken to the core
Asking For His Name
Some of the officers who rushed by Cheryl wore jackets with the unmistakable letters “FBI”, and since they did not know what was happening, she followed them into her home. She was utterly confused.
Shaken up Cheryl said, “They went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby.” She heard the officers ask her husband: “What’s your name?” to which he answered, “Bobby Love.”
Asking For His Name
They then asked, “No, what’s your real name?” and her husband said something in a hushed tone. The officers responded, “You’ve had a long run,” and the police were suddenly putting Bobby in handcuffs.
Cheryl was totally confused, she had no idea how to react. Cheryl pleaded and asked what was happening. He said as they pushed him out the door, “This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you.”
Walter Miller grew up in North Carolina in the 1960s and he described his childhood as “pretty normal.” His family was poor since his mother struggled with raising eight children, and Walter soon started slipping through the cracks.
An 80’s Concert
It started when Walter went to a Sam Cooke concert. He recalled, “The crowd was really moving because it was dance music. And Sam Cooke didn’t like that. He kept telling people to sit down.
And after only two songs, he walked off the stage.” After jokingly yelling a profanity directed at the stage, Walter was arrested promptly for disorderly conduct, and he later said this about the incident: “Things went downhill pretty quickly after that.”
Years Of Petty Crimes
After that 1964 Sam Cooke concert, Walter already had a record despite his young age. Things then started to snowball, and Walter later admitted in an interview, “I got into all sorts of trouble.”
Trouble Was Calling
He said, “I lifted purses from unlocked cars, I was stealing government checks out of mailboxes, I got bolder and bolder.” He was committing small crimes frequently, anything to get some cash quickly.
Juvenile Detention Center
One day, he stole from his school’s band room, got caught, and was soon sent to a juvenile detention center nearby. After many years of petty crimes, he finally faced the tough consequences. But what exactly were they?
His Life Quickly Changed
Walter’s life quickly changed from being free to do as he pleased to following the juvenile detention’s strict code. “I hated everything about that place,” Walter admitted years later, complaining about the food and especially the violence.
“I still have scars from all the times I got beat up,” he revealed, even though it had been years since he had stayed at the center. Those memories and experiences would be forever with him and on him.
Calculating A Plan
At night, Walter would fall asleep as he listened to the trains pass by on the tracks and the sounds made him wish he was free beyond the walls of the center. He knew he had to get out, but he first needed to figure out how.
A Daring Escape
The local train track whistles reminded Walter every night of the freedom that he wished to experience once more. “I always wanted to know where that train was going,” he said, and everything in juvenile detention just became a trial of patience for him while he waited for an opportunity.
One night, his chance came as the guard manning the doors of the detention center turned his back to check the time. Walter had been waiting for this precise window of opportunity and quickly dashed to the exit doors.
He said, “I ran out the back door — toward the sound of that whistle. And that was the first place I ever escaped from,” but it was not the last. Walter had managed to pull off a major crime, a prison escape of some sort.
Making His Way To The Tracks
Walter headed to the train tracks and did what he had wanted to do for a long time: he followed them in order to see where they led. He would eventually journey north on the tracks, coming from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.
In the beginning, it seemed like things were turning around for Walter. He had a brother living in Washington, D.C. at the time, so Walter stayed with him in his city apartment, had enrolled himself in high school, started actually going to his classes, and played basketball with friends.
Spoken To Soon
However, once again, Walter soon became part of “the wrong group of kids,” and his life became more dramatic once again. he could not seem to stay on the straight and narrow it was almost as if his scent attracted trouble, but this was the beginning of something bigger…
Much Worse Crimes
Walter’s new friends did not really engage in petty theft but instead, committed much worse crimes. He soon found out that his friends robbed banks and had managed not to get caught because they drove to North Carolina, where there was more relaxed security.
Walter and his friends initially kept getting away with bank robbing, and he recalled, “After every score, we’d hand out on the strip at 14th and T [Streets], and act like big timers. We felt like gangsters.” However, Walter admitted in a moment of honesty: “I have nobody to blame but myself. I just enjoyed the feeling of having money.”
Getting Caught Again
Walter’s luck soon ran out. He and his friends had gotten away with a number of bank robberies, but the operation all came crumbling down one day in August 1971. One of the banks he robbed had a silent alarm, which a bank teller used to alert the police about the burglary in progress.
Back In Cuffs
When Walter walked out of the bank, the authorities were already waiting for him in the parking lot. “I tried to get away, ducking and weaving, running through cars,” he recalled, but an officer when he was shot him, and that was it. He was caught but he found a way to change that yet again.
Sentenced For His Crimes
Walter was sentenced for this bank robbery and was found guilty of yet another as well, so he was sentenced to 25 to 30 years in total. During that time, he got some devastating news – he learned his mother had died. Heartbroken, he made a vow to turn his life around.
A few appeals had been done for Walter, but all of them failed. Although he was used to prison by then, he decided the only way his life would get slightly better was to get transferred from a maximum-security center to a minimum-security one just down the hill, which is why he hatched a plan.
His Work Paid Off
Walter was committed to doing better and turning his life around. “I became the perfect inmate. I never had a mark on my record,” he said. His work paid off, and his good behavior got him transferred to a minimum-security center.
His new situation was “more like a camp” compared to maximum security, and while the facility still had high fences and looming gun towers, it came with a larger sense of freedom as well.
Things Were Changing
The inmates here were allowed to walk outside and call their families. Walter was even allowed to have his own radio show, so he did not really have plans of escaping at first — but then everything changed.
Everything Went Downhill
Walter liked being a radio host and said the role made him feel “relaxed”, something he has not felt in years. However, everything went downhill fast after a prisoner yelled some profanity at the prison’s captain, who mistakenly thought Walter had been the one who had yelled. Of course, it didn’t just end there…
Too Many Negative Reports
The captain had it out for Walter since then and started “picking on” him. According to Walter, the captain would write him up for infractions regularly. These infractions were often unfair in Walter’s recollection.
An Eye On Him
“The negative reports kept piling up until I was one mark away from being sent back up the hill,” Walter said, and since he really did not want to have to backtrack, he decided it was time to think of a way to escape.
A New Opportunity
Because of the negative reports that Walter received, he was assigned one of the prison’s worst jobs. He and a few other prisoners had to clean up the roads and to do this, they needed to wake up before the rest of the prisoners, get onto a bus, and travel to Raleigh in order to pick up trash.
The Plotting Begins
He recalled, “It was awful. People would be throwing hamburgers and milkshakes at you. And it was almost winter, so it was starting to get cold.” In spite of the bad conditions, he actually saw this as an opportunity. “That’s when I started planning and plotting,” Walter said.
His Big Escape Plan
As he planned his big escape, Walter started saving up money and taking notice of things, including the fact that the Tuesday morning shift guard was a bit lazier than the others. Each inmate had to be pat down before getting onto the bus but this particular guard just let them walk by and onto the bus.
Collecting The Necessary Information
Walter also started to notice the one intersection the bus would always stop at, and it was right next to a wooded area. He spent months collecting all of the information that he could, and then, as he watched football on a Monday night, he made a decision…
“That was going to be my last night in prison,” Walter said. He ran through his plan and decided there was no better time than the present, he was ready. But, would he manage to pull off yet another escape?
Everything Was Set
As was expected, the lazy guard just stood by the entrance of the bus on that Tuesday. Walter was prepared and had taken out everything in his locker. He brought the civilian clothes they allowed him to wear for the radio broadcast and wore them under his prison uniform.
Wailing Of The Sirens
Walter went to the back of the bus and positioned himself right beside the emergency exit. He said, “As we slowed down for a stop, I swung open the back door — and I was gone,” he had done it.
Walter quickly stripped off his prison garments before running deeper into the forest, the wail of the sirens getting more and more distant. He kept running and moving as his adrenaline had kicked in and he knew this was his best bet.
The Death Of Walter Miller
“I could hear the alarm blaring behind me, but I didn’t look back,” Walter recalled. Once he felt the coast was clear, he started calmly asking people he encountered for the way to the Greyhound station and they would tell him, “Keep going.” Finally, he got to the station and was able to board a bus to New York City, having borrowed enough money from a stranger.
The Birth Of Bobby Love
He remembers being slumped in his seat when a woman turned to him and struck up a conversation, and he said this about it: “She asked me my name. I thought for a moment, and said: ‘Bobby Love.’ And that was the death of Walter Miller.” He was about to begin a completely new life.
In November 1977, Walter — now known as Bobby — arrived in New York. He started a new life and used the little money that he had to pay for a motel room, but the money soon ran out, and he had to live on the streets. Still, Bobby managed to begin building his new life even from the streets, and through some lies and lucky breaks, he was able to get a birth certificate, a social security number, and, later, a driver’s license.
After all of that, he started to look for employment and then worked odd jobs as he picked up paychecks where he could and stayed at $8-a-night hotels. Then, his luck turned and his life changed.
Bobby And Cheryl
In the 1980s, Bobby got a job in the Baptist Medical Center cafeteria in Brooklyn and met a coworker named Cheryl, who later became his wife. On their first date, they went to see Prince’s movie Purple Rain and also a Gladys Knight and the Pips concert. Bobby had never met anyone like Cheryl before. “Cheryl was innocent. The opposite of me. And that’s why I was so attracted to her,” he explained, “Cheryl was soft. Almost in a naïve way.” He wanted to start a life with her although he knew full well that it could come crashing down at any moment.
A Heart Of Gold
Bobby had never met anyone like Cheryl before. “Cheryl was innocent. The opposite of me. And that’s why I was so attracted to her,” he explained, “Cheryl was soft. Almost in a naïve way.” He wanted to start a life with her although he knew full well that it could come crashing down at any moment.
Building A Life Together
On March 30, 1985, Bobby and Cheryl got married – he was 34 years old and she was only 21 – and shortly thereafter, the newlyweds welcomed their first child, whom they named Jasmine. Two years later, their daughter Jessica was born and 11 years after, they had twins Jordan and Justin.
Devoted Family Man
Bobby had two jobs, and despite only getting a brief two hours of sleep every night, he remained an attentive father. Aside from work, Bobby also became active in church, volunteered, and attended community meetings. His life seemed perfect, but his enormous secret loomed behind it all. Walter told the New York Daily News that he would tell his wife this: “I’m not going anywhere unless somebody takes me.”
Even though Bobby wanted his wife to know about his past — he said that he “just couldn’t risk it.” He felt his previous life was already in the rear-view mirror but he said Cheryl was a “righteous woman” and would probably encourage him to surrender to the police.
He still kept in touch with a few family members in North Carolina, though, and he asked his sister to tell Cheryl his secret only after he passes away. However, his sister persisted and told him to come clean.
His New Slate
He said, “That part of my life was buried back in North Carolina. And it wasn’t coming back,” but soon enough, he would be proven wrong. He never truly felt in the clear or as if his conscious was clear but he thought he was safe in his new life.
“There was a piece missing,” Cheryl said, “something was different,” as she and Bobby’s friends had noticed a few oddities. For example, Bobby disliked being in pictures, was always wary of talking to strangers, and often kept to himself.
Cheryl said that you could see he was always a bit on edge or worried. There are times when people would stop and ask him something mundane or for directions and he always “seemed spooked.”
Praying To The Lord
During arguments with Cheryl, he would close himself off. “I remember during Christmas of 2014, I was on my knees in church, saying ‘Lord, please, I can’t do this anymore,’” Cheryl recalled. “That was a few weeks before everything went down.”
Everything Came Crashing Down
Since years had gone by and he felt a bit more comfortable, Bobby went back to North Carolina for the funeral of a sibling. Bobby thinks that’s the moment when someone recognized him and informed the authorities. Not long after, the FBI was strapping him into handcuffs in his own bedroom up north.
Cheryl said, “My world came crashing down,” and she also admitted that her hurt overtook her embarrassment. She felt as though she had been living a lie, her mind was filled with much doubt regarding her relationship.
She added, “Bobby had deceived me for all those years. There was no truth in our house,” and in a different interview, Cheryl remarked she was “like I was in a movie — a Lifetime movie.” In spite of her complex feelings, she still felt she had to do something.
Facing Grim Circumstances
The circumstances Bobby was facing were grim. He was on the infamous Rikers Island in New York, awaiting extradition to North Carolina, where he would possibly serve out the last 10 years of his sentence and the extra time for escaping.
For Better Or Worse
Cheryl visited him and saw how dire his circumstances were. She remembered, “When I first visited him in prison, he broke down crying,” and she added, “His head was in his hands, and he told me: ‘I know, you’re going to leave me.’ Was she?
To Leave Or Not To Leave
Cheryl told Bobby, ” Bobby Love, I married you for better or for worse. And now this is the worst.” Having that in mind, she started working on her next move. Cheryl was not going to just watch her husband’s life fade away in prison
Doing Everything She Could
Cheryl did everything she could think of in an attempt to give her husband his freedom. She wrote and sent letters to the governor and President Obama himself, and she asked her children and other people in Bobby’s life to write testimonials.
She said, “I didn’t know a thing about Walter Miller, but I told them all about Bobby Love.” She believed in her husband’s change and saw him as the new person he had become.
Addressing The Parole Board
Cheryl gathered practically every piece of character defense that she could and brought it with her to her husband’s parole board. Although it seemed like it was impossible, the parole board let Bobby go back to his freedom and start again the new life that he had built just after one year of prison. However, things would not be the same again.
Better Than Ever
Cheryl ultimately forgave Bobby, and their marriage miraculously became even better than ever. In addition, Bobby’s persona shifted, and he was not jumpy anymore, engaged more with other people, and more attentive and open to his wife. This was not all for the Love’s.
The couple felt they are even more connected now after Bobby’s secret was revealed. Cheryl is now in the marriage that she wanted and their lives are now free from. “The day he was set free, I sat him down and I asked ‘What is it? Are we the Loves? Or are we the Millers?’ And he said: ‘We Love. We Love.’”