Case 282

April Tinsley

*** Content warnings: Child victim, sexual assault ***

In 2004, several young girls around Fort Wayne, Indiana received handwritten letters threatening that they would be the next victim of a child killer.

Authorities were immediately concerned. DNA from the letters matched samples they had stored from an unsolved crime that was committed more than a decade earlier – the murder of eight-year-old April Tinsley.



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Unsolved Child Murders: Eighteen American Cases 1956 – 1998 – Emily Thompson



Body of missing girl found – The Reporter-Times, April 5 1988

Officials say 8-year-old girl was murdered – The Herald, April 5 1988

Autopsy shows girl was raped, suffocated – Muncie Evening Press, April 6 1988

Fort Wayne man quizzed about death of 8-year-old girl – The Indianapolis Star, April 12 1988

Police arrest Indiana man, but not for crime in question – The Herald, April 13 1988

Child’s death spurs community group action in Fort Wayne – The Tribune, May 27 1988

DNA tests: no foreign matter on dead girl – Journal and Courier, Oct 6 1988

Coroner draws parallels between deaths of two Fort Wayne girls two years apart – The Courier-Journal, June 16 1990

Police seek help on 1988 murder of 8-year-old girl – The Herald, Sept 19 2006

Notes found in 2004 may help solve 1988 murder – The South Bend Tribune, Sept 20 2006

The search finally ends – Journal and Courier, July 22 2018



Inside the horrific murder of eight-year-old April Tinsley and the 30-year search for her killer – All That’s Interesting

Indiana mom remains hopeful for justice in 1988 murder case – AP News

DNA match leads to arrest in 1988 rape and murder of Indiana girl after decades of taunts from killer – Time

April Tinsley’s murder: this is how cops say they solved the 30-year-old cold case – Law & Crime

Who killed April Tinsley? Catching the monster in Fort Wayne – The Crime Wire

Child-killer taunted investigators for 30 years with disturbing notes. DNA ends the mystery of who did it, police say – CNN

FBI joins hunt for killer who leaves taunting notes – CNN

Sick, twisted taunts haunted Fort Wayne until arrest was made in April Tinsley Murder – IndyStar

Child-killer who left threatening messages arrested three decades on thanks to DNA testing – Nine News

How controversial DNA technology helped solved the April Tinsley cold case – IndyStar

How a genealogist helped police crack an infamous 30-year-old cold case – CBS News

DNA evidence credited for arrest in April Tinsley’s 1988 killing – IndyStar

Two girls murdered within two years, one sure killer and one only possible – The Journal Gazette

Who killed April Tinsley? Longtime suspect John D. Miller pleads guilty to girl’s 1988 murder – IndyStar

Who is John Miller? – Wane News

Tinsley detectives reveal new details about case, suspect – Wane News

How DNA led to arrest in cold-case killing of Indiana 8-year-old after it ‘haunted the community for 30 years’ – ABC News

Cold case victim’s family, who waited 30 years for justice, attends suspected killer’s court appearance – ABC News

Man who killed 8-year-old in 1988 sentenced to 80 years in prison by Fort Wayne court – IndyStar

Tinsley killer gets 80 year prison sentence – WBOI News

Mother: 80 years in prison ‘not enough’ for April Tinsley’s killer –

April Tinsley’s mom to man who allegedly murdered her daughter: ‘I want to be the last face he sees’ – Law & Crime

April’s memory still lives on for many – The Journal Gazette

April’s mom wants death penalty – The Journal Gazette

April Tinsley – the little girl who was nearly forgotten – The True Crime Edition

Where is John D. Miller Now? – The Cinemaholic

Where is Janet Tinsley Today? – The Cinemaholic



Affidavit for probable cause



On the case with Paula Zahn – Season 17 Episode 1

The Genetic Detective S1 E4 – The Deadly Playdate

Evidence in Tinsley cold case released – Wane 15 News



Cold Case Heats Up: Help Solve 1988 Murder – FBI (part one, part two, part three)

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