Cold Case: Woman’s Missing Father Died as Tower Bridge Hero in 1987

SACRAMENTO -- James Wray Miller wasn't always a good guy, but he died a hero.

"Everybody said he had such a good heart, was a very good person. But when he drank, it was different Jim," his daughter, Kristine Feldhaus, told FOX40 on the phone from Ames, Iowa.

She was 3 years old the last time she saw her dad. She has clearer memories though of the FBI coming to look for him after he was accused of robbing a bank teller at gunpoint for a little more than $2,000.

Miller went on the run.

"If he was alive, I wanted him to know that he had grandkids," Feldhaus said.

And in the digital age, she found a tool to find him -- NamUs -- the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Since 1987 the Yolo County sheriff had been looking for a hero, an unidentified man who jumped into the Sacramento River at the Tower Bridge after a drunk bridge operator lifted the platform in error.

A pickup full of three people went into the water because of the mistake and the unidentified hero went in after to save them -- but he died.

Years ago the Yolo County Coroner entered what information they had about that man into the NamUs database, having no idea that a bank robber from Iowa was their unidentified hero.

"She’s like, 'We found your dad.' And I was like, 'Glory be,'" Feldhaus told FOX40. "I don't know, it felt really good. But it was also just like, I was just really proud of him."

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.