LEWISTON — Every year on Nov. 6, Tonia Ross marks the grim anniversary.

Dorothy Milliken with her family shortly before she was a beaten to death in Lewiston in 1976. Maine State Police photo

It was 45 years ago, in 1976, that her mother, Dorothy “Dottie” Milliken, was beaten and left to die outside a Lisbon Street laundromat. Milliken was 27 and the mother of three.

Her killing has never been solved.

Ross has never stopped thinking about her mother’s death and never stopped hoping for a break in the case.

“The loss doesn’t go away,” she said this week. “It’s something you think about every single day.”

The official Maine State Police account of the killing goes like this:


“On Saturday, November 6, 1976, at approximately 4:40 a.m. Dorothy’s body was found lying outside Beal’s Laundromat at 969 Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Dorothy usually did her laundry in the mornings along with her daughter Tonia, but on Friday, November 5, 1976 she decided to do her laundry at night as she was preparing to return to work that Monday from maternity leave.”

“Dorothy left her home around 11 p.m. Friday night, after her husband went to bed,” according to the police account. “Dorothy’s body was discovered by a newspaper delivery person the following morning. An autopsy revealed she died from blunt force trauma to the head.”

There have been lots of suspects over the years — and some names still come up in connection with the killing — but no arrests were ever made.

In the days leading to the sad anniversary, Ross continues to think about all the things she lost that morning.

“Your first boyfriend, first school dance, you get married, have children, all those big life moments that come along and there’s a void because you wish you could talk to your mom and share those moments with her,” she said. “Even the everyday things. It never goes away; it never goes away.

“It’s time. I deserve, my sister and my family deserve closure and it’s not fair that the person who did this has just gone on through life without a conscience like it’s OK, because it’s not OK,” Ross said. “It’s not OK to take a life” Ross said. “They should come clean, they should get it off their chest and bring me, my sister and my family closure.”


Milliken’s family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who killed Dorothy.

State police said they are still working the case. It has not gone cold.

“These kinds of cases are the most challenging to work on,” said Michael Chavez, the primary detective who has been investigating the case since 2012 after he was promoted into the State Police Major Crimes Unit. “Over the years, a number of other state police detectives have been working on this case and we have still yet to uncover both the motivation for the crime and the person responsible.”

Since taking on the case, Chavez said that the more he drills down into the depths of the case, the more he feels he’s closer to uncovering the truth.

“It’s all there in these old reports,” Chavez said, referring to several fat blue binders containing the Milliken case files. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the person who did this was so consumed by anger that they made a conscious effort to brutally strike down an unarmed woman without thinking twice about the consequences. To make things worse, this person had the audacity to just walk away, which left the family consumed by anger, regret and sorrow.”

Chavez encourages anyone who may have additional information, including any person who may have participated in the killing, to come forward and make things right.

Ross agrees with that assessment. The best outcome, she said, would be for the culprit to come forward.

“I don’t hate the person who did it,” she said. “I forgive the person who did it. But it’s time for us to know what happened.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Maine State Police, Major Crimes South, 1 Gray Farm Road, Gray, ME 04039 or call 207-228-0857.

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