Published: Tue, July 17, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Suspect arrested for 1988 murder of Fort Wayne girl appears in court

Suspect arrested for 1988 murder of Fort Wayne girl appears in court

John Miller, 59, of Grabill, was arrested Sunday morning by Fort Wayne police and ISP after he reportedly admitted to the murder to detectives. When asked why police would want to talk to him, Miller offered "April Tinsley", according to court documents.

He faces felony murder, child molestation and criminal confinement charges.

The 8-year-old girl disappeared on April 1, 1988 in Fort Wayne as she was walking home from visiting a friend. Three days later, her body was found 20 miles from where she was last seen alive. In 1990, police found the phrase "I kill 8 year old April M Tinsley did you find her other shoe haha I will kill agin" written in a local barn, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Fourteen years after that, four taunting notes were found at various Fort Wayne residences, including several on bicycles that young girls left in their yards, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

On July 2, the testing company reportedly narrowed the DNA recovered from the suspect in the Tinsley murder to two surviving brothers, including Miller.

The cause of her death was asphyxiation, and there was evidence of sexual assault, according to court documents.

"Hi Honey I Been watching you I am the same person that kinapped an Rape an kill Aproil Tinsely", the messages said. "I will kill agin". But the DNA material recovered from the condoms did match the evidence recovered from Tinsleys underwear — concretely linking the deranged 2004 notes with the 1988 killing.

Those were the two words Miller had for investigators who knocked on his door Sunday and asked him why he thought they were there.

But thanks to advances in genealogy and DNA technology, the suspected killer was arrested and then confessed to the crime on Sunday - more than 30 years after April's death.

Today city and state police approached Miller in front of his residence, the affidavit said, and Miller agreed to come to the Fort Wayne Police Department to speak with detectives.

Similar to how investigators followed-up on a possible DNA match for a suspect in the Golden State Killer investigation, detectives conducted surveillance on Miller, and collected further evidence from his trash, including used condoms.

On 9 July, investigators learned that the DNA from his refuse matched the previous samples.

In May, Los Angeles police made an arrest in the 1977 rape and murder of a mother using DNA matching.

Two years after the murder, police found a note on a barn close to where her body was found in DeKalb County. Miller added it took 10 minutes for her to die and that after she was dead he violated her corpse, the affidavit said. Prosecutors and police have declined to comment before a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning. Miller allegedly told police he dumped her body at night. He also had found one of her shoes in his auto, and he threw that out the vehicle window along the ditch as he drove by.

Police connected him to the homicide by using DNA from the scene of the murder and from the taunting messages, and inputting them into a genealogical database.

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