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The Journal Gazette

  • Janet Tinsley, mother of April Tinsley, speaks Wednesday in her daughter's memorial garden on the city's south side after charges were filed against April's alleged killer. (Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette)

Thursday, July 19, 2018 1:00 am

Thankful Tinsley seeking privacy

Charges filed in daughter April's 1988 slaying

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

April Tinsley's mother asked for privacy Wednesday.

In a news conference at April's Garden, Janet Tinsley thanked prosecutors and investigators who worked to make an arrest Sunday in her daughter's 1988 slaying and sexual assault. But Tinsley said in a statement read by Jessica Crozier, Victim Assistance director for the Fort Wayne Police Department, she would not answer questions about the case.

John D. Miller, 59, was arrested at his home in Grabill, and prosecutors filed documents Wednesday in Allen Superior Court to formally charge him with murder and child molesting. Preliminary charges had included criminal confinement, but that charge was dropped.

Joined by Deputy Police Chief Garry Hamilton, spokesman Michael Joyner, Detective Brian Martin and other officers, Tinsley spoke at April's Garden – the memorial created three years ago at Hoagland and Masterson avenues.

“I was hoping one day it would come,” Tinsley said, referring to the arrest of a suspect in the case. “I was shocked, but then again, I was happy.”

Miller was being held without bail at the Allen County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court today for a hearing.

Tinsley told The Journal Gazette on Tuesday she would ask prosecutors to seek the death penalty in the case but would not say at the news conference whether Miller should be executed.

Police and Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards have declined to comment on the case.

“Just hearing that they finally found him, that's justice for (April),” Tinsley said.

April left her family's West Williams Street home on Good Friday, April 1, 1988, and never came back. A jogger found her body along DeKalb County Road 68 three days later.

Miller confessed to investigators he kidnapped the girl, sexually assaulted her and strangled her so she couldn't report him to police, a probable cause affidavit alleges.

Police spent 30 years interviewing witnesses and looking over evidence that included DNA collected at the crime scene. A break came when Indiana State Police investigators told local police that DNA from condoms recovered in 2004 and from Miller's home this month matched DNA found in April's underwear in 1988.

A genealogy database also was used by a private firm hired by police to narrow the search for a suspect to Miller.

Miller was asked when police arrived at his trailer home Sunday if knew why investigators wanted to talk to him. “April Tinsley,” he replied, according to the affidavit.

mleblanc@jg.net