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The Chief, the Scotsman, the Swindler, and the Killer

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Horvath's quest has confronted McMillan, still a businessman in Dallas, with the unseemly task of defending himself against accusations that he is a murderer, even though he has not been charged with a crime. In his anger, McMillan is firing back, marshaling all the evidence he can to show that Horvath is out of control, abusing his position to harass and slander an innocent man.

McMillan has filed a complaint with the Dallas County District Attorney's office, and is peppering DeSoto city officials with letters detailing Horvath's behavior. He has sent letters to the chief all but challenging Horvath to arrest him for the crime, so he can prove his innocence.

"Is it Hamlet, Act Three? 'He who steals my purse steals only money, but he who steals from me my good name steals everything I have,'" McMillan says. "I'm not going to stop until somebody listens. Somebody has to fucking stop him."

Matthew James McMillan is now Romeo James Milano. He legally changed his name in 1994, switching back to the Italian name his father had abandoned to escape prejudice.

A portly, balding Scotsman, Milano is equally adept at vociferous profanity and biting erudition. By profession, he is an opportunist, selling foreclosed real esate in Dallas or blue jeans in Poland--whatever pays.

"I wish I had the money that I didn't have to work so I could just follow him around for a few months," says attorney Kayo Mullins, who has represented Milano in some legal matters. "I think he leads a very exciting life."

Largely because of his business dealings--first in distressed real estate, later as an "international commodities dealer" traveling round and about Europe--the 41-year-old Milano has managed in his time to draw scrutiny from a distinctive array of law enforcement agencies around the world.

He has, by his account, been investigated by the FBI, Scotland Yard, Interpol, the Miami police, the New York police, and the federal authorities of England, Germany, and Scotland. According to law enforcement sources, Milano is not lying about his familiarity to myriad police agencies.

For all the attention he has attracted, Milano has never been charged with anything worse than drunk driving. He has, in fact, apparently been cleared of all the suspicions which have brought him to police attention.

But the one accusation that will not go away, largely because of the activities of the DeSoto police chief, is the Coleman killing. The savage shooting is inextricably intertwined with Milano's life, and the bitter divorce between Milano and his former wife.

Raised in Scotland, Milano immigrated in 1981, coming to DeSoto to meet a woman with whom he had been corresponding, and planned to marry. He is reluctant to provide details of how the courtship began. One acquaintance says it started as a bar bet back in Scotland, when Milano, then 26, wagered a drinking buddy that he could pick a U.S. phone number at random and strike up a friendship with whatever woman answered the phone. That ended up being Terrie Ellen Sickels, a DeSoto teenager.

When he arrived, Milano started work as a photocopier salesman, and did end up marrying Sickels in July 1981. Three years later, the couple had their only child, a daughter.

In Dallas in the 1980s, real estate was where the money was, so Milano naturally followed it, starting his own business buying and selling foreclosed properties. He says the business was lucrative, if not prestigious.

His dealings, investigators say, came to the attention of the DeSoto police, who were uneasy about the prospect that an unsavory character might have moved into their midst. Milano bristles at the suggestion that he was doing anything more than taking advantage of opportunities. "If you buy and sell real estate in Dallas County or anywhere else in Texas, it's a matter of public record," he says. "I mean, deeds have to be filed, liens have to be purchased, liens have to be filed, documents have to be notarized, your title companies have to be gone through. All of this stuff. You know, if I was so bad and so corrupt, why didn't anybody successfully sue me? Why didn't anybody take me to court?"

DeSoto police received complaints about Milano, and investigators spoke with both the Dallas County District Attorney's office and the Texas Attorney General's office about their concerns. But after reviewing the complaints, DeSoto law enforcement sources say, both agencies determined that Milano was doing nothing illegal.

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David Pasztor

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