Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette John D. Miller's mobile home on Main Street in Grabill drew police officers Sunday after DNA testing linked Miller, 59, to the sexual assault and strangling of April Tinsley in Fort Wayne 30 years ago.

  • Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette John D. Miller’s mobile home in Grabill is where April Tinsley was killed in 1988, police say.

Monday, July 16, 2018 1:00 am

Neighbors in Grabill confront grim news

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

GRABILL – John D. Miller, the man accused of killing 8-year-old April Marie Tinsley, didn't make his address a secret.

Along with potted plants and landscape lighting, a wooden post bearing his name decorates the mulched area outside his Grabill residence, a mobile home along Main Street down the street from Leo-Grabill Sports Complex.

He was hiding – for 30 years – in plain sight, community members said Sunday.

That quickly changed as word of his Sunday morning arrest spread in the northern Allen County community of about 1,100 residents. The Indiana State Police kept watch as people arrived on Main Street to glimpse where – as identified in the probable cause affidavit – Miller took April, sexually assaulted her and killed her in early April 1988.

“It can't be happening in the little town of Grabill, can it?” a passerby said to onlookers from Harlan.

Before authorities released Miller's mugshot, some gatherers tried to find him on social media, wanting to put a face to the common name.

Across town at Phil's One Stop, employee Emily Almond wondered whether she ever crossed paths with Miller.

She's a mother and has passed the mobile park to get to the baseball diamonds.

“It's almost horrifying he was here,” Almond said.

Dawn Muller – a mother of an 8-year-old girl and mobile home park resident – agreed, calling the situation “very concerning” and surprising despite a heavier police presence in recent days.

The arrest didn't shock David Roberts, Miller's next-door neighbor.

Miller had a bad temper, Roberts said, adding that his neighbor would use foul language and kick and throw objects.

Roberts said he didn't know Miller well. The man kept to himself and to his house, Roberts said, adding that he never saw Miller around the nearby athletic fields.

As heartbreaking as the situation is, Almond said it's a relief that an arrest was made in April's case and – as far as the public knows – that no other children were hurt.

asloboda@jg.net