James B. Hunt, Governor
Joe Hamilton, Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Public Information Director

Correction News
January 1999

Department of Correction
214 W. Jones Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
(919) 733-4926

DOC Angel Tree helps hundreds for the holidays

Probation officers give gift of love

Five small prisons close

Spotlight on the Franklin Sign Plant

Polk Youth Institution High Security

Access to computer training made easy

Correction grant helps spur Orange County treatment facility

Probation officers receive laptop computers

Poteat, Franklin take Marion work program to the next level

Department of Correction wins air quality award

Wilford Shields Retires

Dana Bridges builds futures

News Briefs


Sampson superintendent finds his father
Steve Muller thrilled to talk with his dad after 46 years

Clinton — Steve Muller, the outgoing, effervescent superintendent of Sampson Correctional Institution, found a carbon copy of himself when he talked to his father for the first time in his life Nov. 17. He was walking on air when he hung up the receiver two hours later.

"It's like I've known him all my life," Muller said. "It's so cool."

Muller's parents divorced when he was six months old. His father went back to Nova Scotia to help his ailing father on their cranberry, strawberry and fox farm. Muller's dad, Seldon Nichols, said when he left his first born, it was like cutting off both arms and legs. He had a heart attack a few years ago, and he told his family his final wish would be for Steve to be at his funeral.

One of Muller's cousins and his half-sister decided not to wait and did a relentless search on the Internet for their lost relative. They found Muller in a USA Today story about the Department of Correction drug dog going to Sampson Correctional Institution. The article mentioned Superintendent Muller. An e-mail to the department's main web address asked if a "Steven Muiller" worked there and what was his phone number.

photo from News and Observer of Raleigh, NC

Steve Muller holds a photograph of his father,
Seldon Nichols, who last saw Steve when he
was saw 6 weeks old. Steve and his wife, Vicki,
are expecting a visit from Nichols in January.

Public Information Officer Bill Poston, who monitors the web site's e-mail, responded and sent the family the phone number of Sampson Correctional Institution.

Nichols said he'd been looking for his son for 46 years. Muller's mom remarried and the new family moved several times. Nichols himself remarried and had seven more children, but he never forgot Muller. He even hired a private detective who got close, concentrating on the Norfolk area when Muller was superintendent at Gates Correctional Center.

Muller was teary-eyed after talking with his dad and said his wife had never seen him so excited.

Muller and his father would have talked longer, but prison duties called, and Muller had to go back to the prison to check out the nighttime lighting for the new second-shift laundry operation. He said he walked around the laundry about a dozen times. Someone offered him a ride, and he declined, too excited to sit still. He couldn't sleep that night.

"I always wondered if he was still alive," Muller said. "But I had rather not know than be rejected."

Muller said he went up to Nova Scotia several years ago, but was too afraid to make any phone calls. Apparently, his father felt the same way. It was Muller=s cousin who called first, then urged Nichols to call his son quickly.

"He was all choked up on the phone and said he didn't know if he could talk," Muller said. But the conversation kept going.

"It’s a good feeling to know someone’s been looking for you almost as long as you’ve been looking for them," he said. "I’ve been getting e-mails from others welcoming me to the family, and they’ve been sending pictures. They get excited like I do – very outgoing."

Muller had a hard time describing his joy. "This is not like the birth of a child, it’s not like a promotion, it’s not like Christmas, it’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced before. It’s actually a burden that’s lifted, a burden I didn’t know I was carrying."

Muller wanted to fly to Toronto to meet his dad over Thanksgiving, but money was tight with his second child on the way. He had to be patient and wait until Jan. 2 when his father and step-mother planned to drive down on their way to Florida.

Nichols warned his son that his step-mother gives hugs and kisses. His new sister, Karen, told Muller that she’d never seen his father this happy, that his life was now full. "You have been their quest all these years," his sister said. u

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