Bobby and Cheryl Love were the kind of married couple everyone looked up to. Unlike other marriages, theirs was still going strong after 40 years. So naturally, everyone wanted to know their secret to a long, happy marriage. But that wasn’t something Cheryl Love could answer honestly because she didn’t really know her husband as well as she thought. As far as she was concerned, Bobby Love was an open book. But her world did a complete 180 when the FBI came knocking on her door. That’s when she realized that the man she had spent a lifetime with was a perfect stranger.
Her Morning Started Out Normal
In January 2015, Cheryl Love did what she normally did every morning. She woke up, headed to the kitchen and started making herself some tea. But it was still pretty early and her husband, Bobby Love was still asleep.
She didn’t think anything could disrupt their peaceful lives until authorities were standing on her front door.
She Heard a Knock on the Door
Halfway through making breakfast, she heard a knock on the door. Who could it be this early in the morning? She wondered. There was only one way to find out.
“I opened it slowly and saw the police standing there,” she said in an interview with Humans of New York.
She Thought They Wanted the Crazy Neighbor
She assumed that the authorities weren’t interested in her. After all, she had lived next to a crazy lady for years, and the cops had come by to check on her on more than one occasion. So, she figured that they had knocked on her door by mistake.
But something horrible happened the instant she opened the door.
Cops Came Barging In
All of a sudden twelve officers barged right in as if she wasn’t even there. She had no idea why they were here but she recognized the letters on their jackets. They were FBI agents.
But why were they interested in her home and why where they headed to her bedroom? She followed them in and was determined to find out.
What’s Your Name?
“They went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby,” she explained to Humans of New York. Then she heard them ask her husband a question followed by an even more puzzling question. “What’s your name?” One of the officers asked.
“Bobby Love,” her husband replied. Then they asked, “No, what’s your real name?” Her husband whispered something in a very low voice that would change her life forever.
She Never Imagined Her Husband Could’ve Been a Criminal
Cheryl explained to Humans of New York that she was in a state of shock the moment she heard her husband whisper those life-changing words. Seeing her husband get confronted by the cops just didn’t make sense to her. She had been with Love for many years and he had never had any issues with law enforcement.
She figured they must’ve made a mistake but her instincts told her that there was something more to this. Something was definitely off.
She Cried Out for Answers
She continued sharing with Humans of New York: “At this point I’m crying, and I screamed: ‘Bobby, what’s going on?’ Did you kill somebody?’” She waited impatiently for her husband to respond but his answer to her questions only added more to the mystery. Did she make a horrible mistake when she married Love? She needed to find out fast.
She Thought She Had the Secret to Marriage Figured Out
On the surface, they seemed to have figured out all there was to know about how to make a marriage last as long as they did. But Love had been holding out on Cheryl and she couldn’t have fathomed that the man she had been living with all this time wasn’t who she thought he was. But it turns out that there was more to this story.
Her World Was Totally Shaken
When those cops stormed into her home, she had no idea that this was the moment that her entire life was going to change. After she learned the truth, she felt like someone swept the rug from under her. Her husband knew there was a possibility that his past would caught up to him and he felt awful about it.
He had done such a great job at hiding things from her all these years and now he had no other choice but to come clean.
They Took Him in Handcuffs
“You’ve had a long run,” said the officers. Then they put her husband in handcuffs. She pleaded with her husband for an explanation as to what was happening.
“This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you,” he said, and then they forced him out of the house. But to hear his side of the story, she’d have to first hear the story of Walter Miller.
Who Was Walter Miller?
Picture it. 1960s North Carolina. Walter Miller claimed he had a pretty normal childhood, but his family was very poor and his mother struggled to raise eight children.
She tried keeping an eye on all her kids, but sadly, Miller slipped through her fingers. One of the first warning signs her son was headed for trouble appeared during a concert.
He Yelled a Profanity and Got Arrested
Miller was at a Sam Cooke concert. “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,” Miller explained to Humans of New York. As a joke, he directed a profanity towards the stage, but was immediately arrested for disorderly conduct. And things quickly took a turn for the worst.
Miller Continued to Spiral Out of Control
The Sam Cooke concert incident left Miller with a record and he continued to get into trouble. “I lifted purses from unlocked cars, I was stealing government checks out of mailboxes, I got bolder and bolder,” he explained. Then, he tried stealing from his school’s band room but got caught.
All of a sudden, he found himself facing the consequences of his mistakes.
He Went to Juvenile Hall
His reign of petty crimes was over and the court sentenced him to serve time at a juvenile detention center. The freedom that he had taken for granted was gone. He had no other choice but to live under the codes of conduct enforced by the juvenile detention center and he didn’t like one minute of it.
He Hated Every Moment of His Sentence
“I hated everything about that place,” Miller explained. He didn’t like the taste of the food, but his biggest issue was with the amount of violence that went inside the center. He described his fellow inmates as violent.
“I still have scars from all the times I got beat up,” he added. Eventually, he realized that had to get out of there.
The Train Inspired Him to Leave the Center
At night he would hear the trains nearby which reminded him that there was a world beyond the center’s walls. He wanted his freedom back, but he had to figure out how and the train was his inspiration. “I always wanted to know where that train was going,” he said.
But he had to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to escape. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long.
He Had a Chance to Escape
One night, Miller raced to the exit doors when one of the detention center’s guards got careless and turned his back. “I ran out the back door — toward the sound of that whistle. And that was the first place I ever escaped from,” he explained.
Now that he was free, he set out to do exactly what he had planned while he was locked up.
He Started a New Life In DC
Miller headed to the railroad tracks to see where they led. He continued to travel north along the tracks from North Carolina to Washington DC, where his brother lived. He crashed at his apartment and even enrolled in high school.
He attended classes, played baseball and hung out with his friends, but eventually, he started hanging with the wrong group of people.
He Turned to a Life of Bank Robbing
Miller’s new friends weren’t fans of petty theft. They preferred crimes that were more elaborate and riskier. Eventually, he learned that his friends liked robbing banks.
They had even gotten away with it on occasion because they committed the crimes in North Carolina, where security wasn’t as good. It wasn’t long before Miller joined them and they got away with bank robbing every time. So, for a while, it seemed like he was on top of the world.
He Felt Like a Gangster
Miller and his friends seemed unstoppable and they enjoyed every minute of the heists they pulled off. “After every score, we’d hand out on the strip at 14th and T [Streets], and act like big timers. We felt like gangsters,” he said.
But then he admitted, “I have nobody to blame but myself. I just enjoyed the feeling of having money.” But it was only a matter of time before authorities caught up to him.
They Got Caught in the Act
In August 1971, Miller and his cohorts were robbing a bank, but they had no idea that one of the tellers had activated the silent alarm. The police were immediately alerted to a burglary in progress and when Miller walked out of the bank, the police were there to greet him in the parking lot. “I tried to get away, ducking and weaving, running through cars,” he said.
But then, an officer shot him and caught him.
He Was Shot
The bullet had entered through his backside and the pain was so intense that he had lost consciousness. But fortunately, he was rushed to a hospital before he bled out. “The bullet went right through me.
I woke up in the hospital– with a hole in the front and back of my coat,” he told Humans of New York. He survived but his reign of terror was far from over.
Miller Received Terrible News Behind Bars
Miller was charged for the bank robbery and was also found guilty of a previous robbery as well. The court sentenced him to 25 to 30 years, but still he felt no guilt about what he had done. Then, he learned that his mother had passed away.
The news left him devastated and he promised himself that he would change to honor her memory. But first he had to get out of prison.
His Appeals Fell on Deaf Ears
Miller wanted a second chance and to do that, he went through the proper channels. He tried to appeal his sentence, but failed every time. And that was okay because he had gotten accustomed to prison life, but he felt that his life could potentially get better if he got himself out of maximum security and into a minimum security center.
So, he started working on a plan.
He Worked Hard to Get Transferred
“I became the perfect inmate,” he said. “I never had a mark on my record.” And after a while, he proved to authorities that he deserved to get transferred to a minimum security prison. His new home felt less like a prison and more like a camp.
That’s not to say that the facility didn’t have high fences and gun towers, but there was more freedom here, which gave him the chance to do whatever he wanted and more.
He Didn’t Plan to Escape
As far as prisons were concerned, this was paradise. The inmates were allowed to walk outside. They could also call their families.
Miller was also allowed to host his own radio show. What more could any inmate want other than a second shot at freedom? He had no intention of escaping, at least not right away. Then something changed.
He Was Mistaken for Someone Else
Miller hadn’t felt so relaxed in years and his role as a radio host played a huge part in that sense of peace. But one day, another inmate yelled a profanity at the prison’s captain. Unfortunately, the captain assumed Miller was the one who yelled at him, and he started picking on him ever since.
He wrote Miller up for infractions all the time. “The negative reports kept piling up, until I was one mark away from being sent back up the hill,” he explained. The last thing he wanted was to end up in maximum security prison again, so he felt he had no other choice than to escape.
He Was Being Targeted
The captain had targeted him and there was no reasoning with him at that time. Miller simply couldn’t get on his good side no matter how hard he tried. The man had made up his mind that he was a troublemaker and he set out to personally ruin his life in prison.
At this point it seemed clear that he had to do something extreme to avoid making his life even worse than it already was.
His Negative Reports Gave Him a New Job
Miller was given the worst prison jobs because of all of his negative reports. One such assignment involved cleaning up the roads with other inmates. But this job also required him to wake up before anyone else, get on a bus and drive to Raleigh to pick up trash.
“It was awful,” he said. “People would be throwing hamburgers and milkshakes at you. And it was almost winter, so it was starting to get cold.” But Miller was a survivor and an opportunist, and this new job offered him a chance to escape.
Miller Started Planning His Escape
Miller started saving his money and even took notice of guard movements during the Tuesday morning shift. The officers didn’t even bother patting the inmates down. This proved to him that the guards were lazy.
He also realized that there was an intersection along the route where the bus would always stop. It was near the woods, which was perfect. Then, one Monday night, he decided, “That was going to be my last night in prison.”
He Simply Open the Door and Left
Miller took everything out of his locker, including his civilian clothes that he was permitted to wear during his radio broadcast. And on Tuesday morning, he sat all the way at the back of the bus by the emergency exit. “As we slowed down for a stop, I swung open the back door — and I was gone,” he explained.
He Ran Towards the Greyhound Station
Miller took his prison garments off and continued to run into the forest, but the lazy guard had clearly noticed his escape. “I could hear the alarm blaring behind me, but I didn’t look back,” he explained. Once he was far enough away, he asked people how to get to the Greyhound station.
Once he got there, he borrowed money from a stranger and bought a ticket to New York City. Then someone asked him a life altering question.
He Looked Suspicious
He was glad he had made it to the bus station, but realized that things could have gone differently. It was a different time and racial profiling affected the lives of Black people in unfathomable ways. It didn’t help that he looked suspicious either.
He knew it, too. So, he had done his best to avoid white neighborhoods every chance he got. If he had to ask anyone a question or directions to get to a place, he asked a Black man. It was better than the alternative, which would have landed him right back in jail.
He Didn’t Want to Go Back
He had been in juvenile hall and eventually in prison. He had spent too much time locked up and not enough time living. He wanted redemption and the only way to get it was by living on the outside.
But he had to be careful because any slip up could land back in prison and that’s the last place he ever wanted to go back to. These were his thoughts as he sat on the bus next to someone.
Goodbye Walter, Hello Bobby
A woman sitting next to him tried to start a conversation with him. “She asked me my name. I thought for a moment, and said: ‘Bobby Love.’ And that was the death of Walter Miller.” In November 1977, Bobby Love stepped foot in New York and his new life began.
Things were tough, but he was a survivor.
He Landed Odd Jobs and a Place to Live
Love ran out of money and found himself living on the streets, but he eventually managed to obtain a birth certificate, a social security number and a driver’s license. These items gave him the opportunity to look for work. He started out doing odd jobs and spending $8 a night at hotels and then he met the love of his life.
He Met His Future Wife at the Hospital
In the 1980s, Love landed a job in the cafeteria of the Baptist Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. That’s when he met a co-worker and was immediately enamored by her. Her name was Cheryl and on their first date, they went to see the film “Purple Rain,” and a Gladys Knight and the Pips concert.
They Valued Their Time Together
Making time for each other became a priority. They didn’t let any distractions from the outside world interfere with their time together. They were present with one another and they would always look into each other’s eyes when they talked.
In fact, they loved hanging out so much that they would sometimes lose track of time. Of course, even the best relationships have their hiccups now and then.
They Handled Conflict Well
They sometimes fought like every other couple does from time to time but they handled the turbulence well. So even when they had their lows during difficult situation, they always knew that they could count on each other and work through things together. This was a benefit that would help them further down the line.
They Started Talking About Their Future
Love realized that he had found someone he wanted to share his life with, and when couples reach this point, they start having conversations about the future. But even when someone thinks they’re sure, they can still feel afraid to talk about future plans like marriage. But when you’re sure you’ve found the one, fear and hesitation simply vanish because you know you want to spend your future with “the one.” But was Love ready for this?
She Was Everything He Ever Wanted
It didn’t take him long to realize that Cheryl was his soulmate, but in many ways, she was nothing like him. “Cheryl was innocent. The opposite of me.
And that’s why I was so attracted to her,” he said, adding, “Cheryl was soft. Almost in a naïve way.” He knew it was risky, but he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
He Left No Trace of His Past
As far as his past coming back to bite him in the backside, Love always felt a tremendous weight on his shoulders. No matter how much he tried, he still knew any day the cops could come knock on his door. However, he was also pretty confident in the fact that he didn’t leave anything behind that would have allowed the guards to trace him either.
So the only running he wanted to do was run towards the loving arms of the love of his life.
He Wanted to Start a Family With Her
He knew that loving Cheryl was risky because of his identity and life were an utter lie. However, he decided she was worth it, so on March 30, 1985, the two of them tied the knot. He was 34 and she was 21 but the two were very happy.
Their Family Tree Continued to Expand
The couple eventually had their first child, a daughter named Jasmine not long after getting hitched. Two years later, they welcomed another daughter named Jessica. And 11 years later, they had twins Justin and Jordan, which meant Love had to work a lot.
He Was a Hard-Working Dad
Love worked two jobs and slept about 2 hours every night, but somehow managed to make time for his kids. He was also very active in church and went to community meetings and volunteered when he could. But he still had concerns about his past.
Hiding His Secret Wasn’t Easy
Love had achieved the perfect life. He had a wife, a couple of kids, a job and a community that adored him. His late mother would have been proud.
But hiding aspects of his life also made him paranoid, fearful and insecure at times. Any given moment, his secret could come out and it could potentially ruin his life. This also led to feelings of separation and isolation from those he loved. But there were times that he longed to shared his secret with Cheryl.
His Words Became an Omen of Doom
During an interview with the New York Daily News, Love recalled telling his wife, “I’m not going anywhere, unless somebody takes me.” He had considered telling his wife the truth about his past, but she was a righteous woman and he feared she would get him to turn himself over to the authorities. But he still held on to his past to some degree.
His Sister Insisted He Tell His Wife
Although his old life was long gone, he still stayed in contact with some of his family members in North Carolina. In fact, he told his sister to tell Cheryl the truth if he passed away. But she always told him to come clean to his wife right now while he was still alive.
But he was okay not telling her. “That part of my life was buried back in North Carolina. And it wasn’t coming back,” he said. But he was wrong.
Something Was Always Off About Him
Cheryl admitted that she had noticed some odd things about him. Even his friends had noticed them. For one thing, Love didn’t like being photographed.
He also avoided talking to strangers and kept to himself. He would also close himself off emotionally whenever he had an argument with his wife. But then he made a stupid mistake and it was a costly one.
A Family Funeral Exposed His Identity
Years passed and he was forced to make a trip to North Carolina for one of his sibling’s funeral. During that time, someone had reportedly recognized him and tipped the cops off. A short time later, the FBI broke into his bedroom and put him in handcuffs.
But his wife took it the hardest. “My world came crashing down,” Cheryl said. “Bobby had deceived me for all those years. There was no truth in our house.” But as angry as she was, she still had to help her husband.
The Whole City Was Laughing at Her
Cheryl told Humans of New York: “Bobby’s arrest was all over the papers. It seemed like the whole city was laughing at me. People at church would pull me aside, and whisper: ‘You knew about this right? You had to know.’” No one seemed to believe that she had been duped just like everyone else and this hurt her very much.
In fact, she wanted to disappear off the face of the Earth.
Cheryl Wanted to Disappear
“How could I be so stupid?” Cheryl asked herself. “I wanted to hide. I wanted to disappear.” These were all valid emotions given that her husband had kept such a terrible secret from her since the day they met.
But now she was a woman on a mission and didn’t have time to dwell on anything else.
He Broke Down When She Visited Him
Love was being held in Rikers Island while he waited to be extradited to North Carolina. Once that happened, he would undoubtedly serve the 10 years that remained in his original sentence, plus extra time for escaping. When I first visited him in prison, he broke down crying,” she recalled.
“His head was in his hands, and he told me: ‘I know, you’re going to leave me.’ I told him: ‘No, Bobby Love, I married you for better or for worse. And now this is the worst.” So she got to work right away.
She Missed Her Husband Terribly
During a 2015 interview with New York Daily News, Cheryl confessed on camera that she missed him a lot while trying to hold back tears. “I just miss his presence, him being here.” She recalled how the officers told her that he wasn’t the man she thought he was, but she knew very well who her husband in spite of this new revelation about his past.
He Apologized to Her Over the Phone
Cheryl told New York Daily News about a time when she was speaking with Love over the phone and he said, “Cheryl, I’m so sorry that I put you through this embarrassment and I feel so bad about that.” She knew he really meant it. At the time, he felt like he had no choice but to disappear, but he was really sorry about how it affected their life. That’s when she decided to give him a piece of her mind.
She Would Have Married Him Anyways
She told New York Daily News that if he had told him the truth about his identity and what he had done on their wedding day, she still would’ve gone through with it. “I still would have married you because I know you as Bobby. I know you as the older guy who took me out and cherished me and we wined and we dined.
We ate and went to movies. We just had a good time. You know? We had a good time, so I still would have married you.” But that didn’t mean that she wasn’t a little bitter.
She Never Hated Him
“I was so angry. But I never hated him,” she told Humans of New York. “I wanted to comfort him.
I wanted to hold his hand. I told Bobby later, ‘That’s how I knew I loved you. Because even in the worst of it, I was thinking about you.'”
He Still Had the Support of His Daughter
In 2015, at the time where Love was re-arrested, his daughter Jessica told the Daily News, “My father was determined to change his life, and for 40 years or so he did just that.” But it was touch and go there for a second, and Love feared that the law wouldn’t see all the good he had done. But fortunately, his wife did.
She Fought to Get Her Husband Paroled
Cheryl wrote letters to the governor and also to President Obama to plea for her husband’s release. “I didn’t know a thing about Walter Miller,” she said. “But I told them all about Bobby Love.” She had her children and everyone that knew her husband write testimonies in his defense.
Then she presented everything she had to the parole board. Ironically, after a year behind bars, the board agreed to grant Love his freedom. But would their marriage survive?
Their Marriage is Better Than Ever
Cheryl forgave Love eventually and his personality changed right away. He was finally engaging people and wasn’t afraid of being recognized anymore. He was also more attentive of her.
But she still recalls the question she asked him after he was released. “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.’”
He Was Happy to be Back
In 2016, shortly after he was paroled, Love told the Daily News: “I’m excited to be back with my children and my wife. I’m trying to put my life back together.” Best of all, he no longer felt the heaviness of the secret he had carried all these years on his shoulders anymore.
His Burden Was Finally Lifted
It had been a long and painful journey full of lies, suffering, loss and love, but he had ultimately put his past behind him the right way this time. “I feel like a big burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” Love told the Daily News.
Their 10 Hour Story Drew Attention
The Love’s incredible story was shared over a period of 10 hours and it quickly drew lots of media attention. It wasn’t long before people were posting comments and hitting like on Love’s amazing journey and Cheryl’s amazing capacity to look past her husband’s past.
Actress and Talent Scout Weigh In
“This is the most beautiful, inspiring love story I have ever watched as a ten hour mini series,” wrote Alias actress Jennifer Garner on Instagram. “Thank you, Humans of New York.” Meanwhile, talent scout Nicolas Heller wrote: “You deserve a Pulitzer for this. And Bobby and Cheryl deserve to love forever.” But authorities disputed something from Love’s story.
Authorities Dispute the Prison Break
By now, everyone’s familiar with Love’s story about how he made a break for it after opening the rear door of the Triangle Correctional Center’s prison transport. But authorities are saying this didn’t happen. “Our records don’t reflect that,” Keith Acree, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety told the Raleigh News & Observer.
But regardless of how things went down, what’s important is that Love is no longer a man on the run and is free to live out the rest of his life in peace.