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  • A sketch, third from right, shows what police in 1988 believed April Tinsley's killer might have looked like. That drawing was followed by renderings years later showing how the suspect might have aged. A photo of John D. Miller released Sunday is on the right. (Courtesy)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 1:00 am

Accused killer known to keep to himself

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

In a small town like Grabill, Janna Worthman expects she would know or at least recognize everyone.

But despite working within blocks of John D. Miller's trailer for 17 years, Worthman doesn't recall ever seeing April Tinsley's accused killer in the town of about 1,000 people.

“I don't recognize him from any pictures,” said Worthman, a Grabill Missionary Church employee.

Those who knew Miller said that's not surprising. They agreed with a neighbor's characterization that Miller kept to himself.

News of his Sunday morning arrest in the decades-old Fort Wayne cold case has put his name – and face – in the spotlight.

Miller is being held without bond in Allen County Jail on charges of murder, child molesting and criminal confinement. Allen County prosecutors have until Thursday to file formal charges.

Former classmates and acquaintances didn't immediately make the connection that Miller was the same person they knew from Waterloo, where his father owned Bob Miller Ford.

They shared reactions and memories Monday on Facebook. The Journal Gazette contacted multiple participants for comment; two agreed to speak but didn't want to be named.

Miller, 59, attended DeKalb High School, at least as a freshman in the 1973-74 academic year. He isn't in subsequent yearbooks, and people who knew him doubt he ever graduated. He suffered from a mental or learning disability, they said, noting special education wasn't like it is today.

Miller was capable of living on his own, although immediate family cared for him throughout the years, they said. His trailer in Grabill was near one of his former workplaces, an Eagle-Picher Industries plant.

He most recently worked at Walmart.

The retailer confirmed Monday that Miller no longer works for the company. The company would not disclose his duration of employment.

“We're shocked at these reports, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of April Tinsley,” according to a statement from Walmart. “We will work with law enforcement however possible, and will refer additional questions on this matter to them.”

asloboda@jg.net