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DNA leads police to child-killer who taunted investigators for 30 years

17 July 2018

April Tinsley's killer spent decades taunting police, leaving behind clues that later helped police in Fort Wayne, Indiana crack the case, according to court documents.

April's body was found in a ditch, about 30km from her Fort Wayne neighbourhood, three days after she disappeared in April 1988. According to an affidavit, when police went to his trailer Sunday and asked if he knew why they were there, he said: "April Tinsley".

A probable cause affidavit filed today in the case against John D. Miller, 59, of Grabill, said DNA profiling and genealogy expert CeCe Moore's research using a public genealogy database led them to Miller, who was arrested today on preliminary charges of murder, child molesting and confinement for Tinsley's death. He is scheduled to appear in Allen County Court Monday.

Thirty years ago, the 8-year-old Tinsley was abducted from her south-central Fort Wayne neighborhood as she walked to a friend's home to pick up an umbrella.

Three days later a jogger spotted the body of a child in a water-filled ditch twisting through the rural fields of the nearby Amish country.

The DNA discovered in those matched that found on April's body, and the sample taken from the condoms left on the bikes in 2004.

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Two years later, officers were called to a barn that had been vandalized by someone claiming to be Tinsley's murderer.

In 2004, the affidavit said, police were dispatched to a Fort Wayne address and two Grabill addresses and recovered one used condom from each scene.

Miller told police he choked her for about 10 minutes until she died, so she would not report him to the police, the affidavit said.

The affidavit says that when confronted by detectives on 15 July, the accused said he abducted April, took her to his trailer and sexually assaulted her. According to a probable cause affidavit released to the media Sunday, Miller's DNA was matched to DNA recovered from Tinsley's underwear in 1988.

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During the interview with police, Miller at first said, "I can't", when asked to explain what happened to Tinsley. She had been assaulted and strangled. He said he saw Tinsley's shoe in the vehicle and threw it along the ditch, according to the affidavit.

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In April, DNA testing led to the arrest of "Golden State Killer" Joseph James DeAngelo, who is suspected to have raped and murdered several victims in California in the 1970s.

On July 6, the affidavit said, a covert trash search was conducted at Miller's residence in an attempt to locate any items that might contain his DNA.

"It was like a gash in the community's heart", former Mayor Paul Helmke told The Journal Gazette.

"Hi honey. I been watching you", he wrote in one of the notes, according to information obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On July 2, the lab narrowed the sample as belonging to one of two brothers. Investigators pulled trash from the location, including three used condoms Miller had allegedly discarded.

Now - 30 years later - police announced an arrest on Sunday.

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Miller reportedly told cops he had done so to stop the girl telling police what he had done, and that he dumped her body the next morning.

DNA leads police to child-killer who taunted investigators for 30 years