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FT. WAYNE, Ind.–An Indiana cold case has been solved with the arrest and confession of the man police believe raped and murdered April Marie Tinsley, 30 years ago in Ft. Wayne.

The arrest

Radio station WOWO Ft. Wayne reports John D. Miller 59, has been charged with murder, confinement and child molesting.

He was picked up in Grabill, Sunday. Police have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday.

Court papers say Miller confessed that he strangled Tinsley so she wouldn’t tell anyone he had molested her. Police said Miller was responsible for several incidents in which he wrote notes claiming to be the killer throughout the past three decades.

They were able to connect him through DNA, to incidents where he left used condoms. In one of those incidents, the condoms were left with a note threatening some little girls, saying he was the one who killed Tinsley, and that one of the girls would be next.


Tinsley, 8, went missing April 1, 1988, which was both April Fools and Good Friday. Her mom Janet, walked her up the block and waved her goodbye. When April was on the way to another friend’s house, she was abducted.

Tinsley called police.

“They said she was a runaway, and I said, an eight-year-old? A runaway?”

A team of Ft. Wayne police officers and family members put out fliers and drove the city looking for April.

On April 4, her body was found by a jogger in a ditch in DeKalb County, near Spencerville. She’d been molested and suffocated. 

Her story was part of a WIBC special called Indiana Cold Cases, which has aired several times this summer.

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis