'No hurt can come to him where he is now'
Haylie Denzer wants the world to know that whoever picked on Luke Miller didn’t know the person that she and many others did.
“He was helpful and had such a big heart and cared so much. For a kid of such a good nature to have to go through this and lose his family and lose his life. He didn’t deserve that and whoever did this must not have thought it through. They obviously didn’t see the kid that everyone else saw. He was such a bright and shining light that brought smiles to everyone’s face,” she said.
Denzer said she’s heard that he was punched or beat up but the details of when and where are unverified. Champaign police began investigating Sunday. No arrests have been made.
“The one person to clear it all up paid the price for it, unfortunately,” said Denzer, a wise-beyond-her- years 16-year-old Centennial High School junior who described Luke Miller as the “brother I never had.”
As soon as she and her teammates arrived back in Champaign on Saturday afternoon from an archery tournament in Chicago, she and her parents, Daryn and Julie Denzer, decided they needed to be at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis with the Millers, close family friends for years.
“I’ve known Luke since I was in the seventh grade and he was in sixth. It was his first year in archery at Jefferson. We were good friends back then but our relationship became like brother and sister in high school and we got very close within the past two years,” she said. “His parents are basically my parents, too.”
If he was being bullied, Denzer said, it was not something he talked about with her.
“Once in a while people would pick on him for what he wore. I never knew it was to the extent he would be beat up. I never knew he was battling that. He held it in and I wish he hadn’t. It’s hard to distinguish when a person is OK and when they are not and they seem perfectly fine,” she said.
“Once in a while I could tell it was bothering him, getting to him,” she said, counseling him that such taunting comes with the territory in high school. “I myself have gone through name calling in middle school.”
Denzer talked to The News-Gazette as she was on her way to a meeting with archery teammates at Kenwood School on Sunday afternoon. She intended to assure them that he was at peace.
“I just want to be support for other people. I was fortunate to be able to support and see him (in St. Louis). He’s with God. He’s a big believer and had faith. He was resting and no hurt can come to him where he is now. I just want them to know he is OK.”
“I want everyone to know how good of a kid he was and how much he wanted to help everyone. When he would stand at the line and a little kid next to him was struggling, he would stop and help. He was coaching on the line.”
“He cared. He had such a big heart and he still does where he is now. He’s going to create some good change for other kids’ lives who comes through these high school doors,” Denzer said.