by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark assistant editor
Three years have passed since the brutal slaying of two sisters inside their Edgerton home.
The vacant single-story residence has been a sad reminder to those in the community still struggling to come to terms with the deaths of 19-year-old Britny Haarup and 22-year-old Ashley Key.
On Saturday, many Edgerton residents were flooded with emotion as they watched the property go up in flames.
Edgerton Fire Department Chief Rodney Deckman coordinated the burning of the home as part of multiple fire training exercises for surrounding fire departments, including Camden Point, Plattsburg, Dearborn and Edgerton-Trimble.
The dozens of volunteer firefighters who entered the smoldering two-bedroom residence watched the rapidly traveling fire change direction as they made a simulated rescue attempt.
Some of the firefighters experienced the intensity of a densely smoke-filled room for the first time.
Following several hours of intensive training, firefighters prepped the structure to be burnt down. Wooden doors and glass windows were broken apart for optimal air circulation. Large pallets were tucked inside.
It didn't take long before the lit debris was overtaken with flames that engulfed the entire structure. Black smoke billowed in a westward direction over the city. The structure was burnt to its foundation within an hour.
The vacant two-bedroom residence served as nothing more than a terrible reminder of the sisters who tragically lost their lives there three years ago.
In May of 2014, the city acquired the unwanted property from the bank with the intention of transforming the property into a memorial garden in honor of victims who have tragically lost their lives.
City officials say they also plan on extending a nearby 1,400-foot walking track through the property.
Construction of the green space could begin as early as this spring.
The killer, 31-year-old Clifford D. Miller of Trimble, claimed he was high on methamphetamines when he entered the residence on July 13, 2012 to severely beat and suffocate the sisters. Their bodies were recovered along a tree line on County Line Road.
A search for the women began when Britny's fiancé came home to a bloody crime scene and his two young children without their mother.
Ashley was an overnight guest, asleep on the couch, when Miller entered the home around sunrise. When she questioned him upon his entry, he violently struck her in the head with a heavy object and suffocated her until her death.
Afterward, he entered the bedroom where Britny was asleep with her five-month-old child. Miller beat Britny with a stick and smothered her with a pillow until she was lifeless.
Miller smoked more meth before deciding to wrap the two bodies inside bedsheets. He removed the bodies through the back door and drove off in Britny's family pickup truck with several guns he removed from the home.
Authorities caught up with Miller after he was spotted driving the stolen pickup and attempting to sell the stolen guns, according to court documents.
A few days later, Miller was found inside his girlfriend's Parkville apartment. During a police interrogation, he revealed the location of the girls' bodies.
Miller pled guilty on April 23. 2013 to two counts of first degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole.