The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 15, 2018 6:24 pm

Grabill man arrested in 1988 slaying of April Marie Tinsley

The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne and Indiana state police today arrested a Grabill man in the 1988 slaying of April Marie Tinsley.

John D. Miller, 59, has been preliminarily charged with murder, child molesting and confinement, the Allen County prosecutor's office said in a statement. He is being held in the Allen County Jail.

Miller is to make his first court appearance for an initial hearing Monday in Allen Superior Court, the statement said. If probable cause is found, the state will be given 72 hours to file formal charges.

April, 8, was reported missing from her Williams Street home on April 1, 1988, and her body was found in a DeKalb County ditch near Spencerville four days later. Her death by asphyxiation was ruled a homicide.

In a probable cause affidavit provided by the prosecutor's office, city police said they obtained a DNA profile from an unknown male from April's underwear.

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. Notes at each scene were found stating the person who left the condoms had raped and killed April M. Tinsley. A DNA profile was developed from the condoms, which was determined to be consistent with the profile developed from Tinsley's underwear.

In May of this year, the affidavit said, a police detective arranged for genetic DNA testing and analysis to be done on the suspect's evidence sample. On July 2, using open public genealogy database research, the contract laboratory narrowed the DNA recovered in the case to two surviving brothers.

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. Several items were collected, it said, including three used condoms. The affidavit said the DNA was consistent with the 2004 profile and the DNA from April's underwear.

Today city and state police approached Miller in front of his residence, the affidavit said, and Miller agreed to come to the Fort Wayne Police Department to speak with detectives. It said he was advised of his rights and agreed to speak with detectives. When asked whether he had any idea why police wanted to talk with him, Miller responded, "April Tinsley."

According to the affidavit, Miller told police he abducted April from Fort Wayne, took her to his trailer in Grabill, sexually assaulted her and then killed her so she would not report him to police. He then drove April's body to DeKalb County Road 68 near Spencerville and dumped her body in the early hours of April 2, 1988.

City and state police are continuing their investigation, with assistance from the FBI and the Allen County sheriff's department and Allen and DeKalb county prosecutors.

For more on this story, visit later today or see Monday's print edition of The Journal Gazette.

Sign up for our crime and courts newsletter

Sent daily when events warrant