WHO IS PAM MILAM?
In the heart of Terre Haute sits Indiana State University. For its thousands of students, who call it home, this is where the future begins.
“She wanted to learn,” said Sam Milam, “She wanted to get the most out of it, not only for herself but for others.”
19-year-old Pam Milam had dreams of her own. In 1972, she was a sophomore at ISU, studying to be a teacher. Her sister, Sheila, who goes by Sam, says Pam was very dedicated to her studies and excited about college.
“I have a great photo of her desk because it’s just piled with books,” she said, “and she would sometimes talk about how much homework she had.”
Growing up in Terre Haute, Sam says she and Pam were close, just like their age. Only a year apart, Sam remembers Pam as someone who “did everything right”.
“She was more obedient than I was, I was a little bit sassy,” recalled Sam.
While their personalities were different, their lives weren’t far off. Sam says her sister was her “footprints in the snow”, often following behind her big sister even through college at ISU, where Sam was a freshman.
“She had joined a sorority, which she was really interested in because it provided friendship and community,” said Sam, “and she felt there was a lot going on there besides parties.”
Susan Mardis, who was also in a sorority and went to school with Pam, says the party scene was very “mild” at ISU.
“We had a great social time at ISU,” said Mardis, “a lot of closeness through the Greek organizations.”
Mardis says “RUSH Parties” were often held by different sororities. It was a way to get to know potential sisters, who may be interested in joining the organization.
“A RUSH Party would be a lot of girls would come through RUSH,” said Mardis, “and we’d do a skit. I remember we did a Charlie Brown skit. We would sing our RUSH songs, and we would talk to the girls, you know, where are you from, typical what’s your major, and find out a little bit about the girls and just be friendly. Those were our RUSH parties, they didn’t really have guys in them.”
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972
Pam was attending a RUSH Party for her sorority, Sigma Kappa, on September 15, 1972. That was around 6:30 that night at the former Men’s PE Annex on campus.
Around 10:30, Pam heads to another party with sorority sisters. This time, at Holmstedt Hall.
30 minutes later, she leaves with two sorority sisters. The plan was to meet a few minutes later, go to dinner and stay at Lincoln Quad.
Witnesses say Pam left alone to her car with party decorations.
Pam never made it back to Lincoln Quad that night. She also did not show up for work the following Saturday, or other planned sorority activities.
Sam says she got a call, at work, from Pam’s boyfriend, who her family later found out she was engaged to.
“Her boyfriend, Dave, called me because she wasn’t at the sorority suite,” said Sam, “We both lived at home while going to college, but because of the RUSH season, she was staying at the suite in Lincoln Quad.”
While the first call was concerning, Sam says it was the second call from Dave that she felt something was really wrong.
Pam’s car was found on Lot 27 on campus, it’s now the tennis courts at ISU.
“When he said that they found that her glasses were on the shelf, behind the backseat, I basically knew,” said Sam, “Because she wouldn’t go anywhere without them.”
Shortly after the call, Sam and her dad went to Pam’s car with a spare set of keys.
“He took the key and he opened the truck,” said Sam, “and that picture stays with me.”
Lying in the trunk of her own car was Pam Milam. Autopsy results showed the bright, aspiring teacher was strangled to death. Police say she was bound and gagged with the party decorations she carried to her car the night before.
“The first thought was this doesn’t make any sense,” said Sam, “First of all, she was there the day before, alive, and then she wasn’t, but how in the world could she come to be there?”
“Someone has inserted himself into her life, into her community, onto this campus and decided that her life should end,” said Sam, “How could somebody do that?”
News of Pam’s murder would eventually make its way throughout campus, leaving students, like Susan Mardis, in shock.
“There was a very dark cloud, it just did not seem real,” she said.
Mardis says there were extra police on campus, women were not allowed to walk alone at night without an escort, and some even went out of their way to buy extra protection.
“People just didn’t feel safe for a little while,” said Mardis.