Suspect arrested, charged with murder of April Tinsley

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) –

More than 30 years after the killing, a Grabill man was taken into custody and charged with the murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley.

The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office announced the major development Sunday afternoon — hours before the premiere of an Investigation Discovery examination of the region’s most haunting unsolved case.

The Fort Wayne Police Department and Indiana State Police worked together to arrest 59-year-old John D. Miller of Grabill on preliminary charges of murder, child molesting and confinement. He is scheduled to appear on court on Monday.

A probable cause affidavit shows that DNA evidence was a key component in the breakthrough connecting Miller to the crime. Recent samples of Miller’s DNA were taken from condoms that were recently removed from a trash receptacle at his home. The DNA was then compared to evidence that had been previously recovered as part of the April Tinsley investigation.

When police showed up at Miller’s home on Sunday morning, they asked him if he knew why there were there. According to the affidavit, Miller responded, “April Tinsley.”

The president and CEO of the National Center for Exploited & Missing Children, which has been involved with the case since its early days, released a video message thanking those whose work led to the breakthrough.

“We applaud Fort Wayne police and so many other investigative agencies who have worked tirelessly over the years, utilizing every advancement of technology available,” John F. Clark said. “These cases should remind everyone that no matter how much time goes by, the answers are out there.”

April was reported missing on April 1, 1988, when she walked to a friend’s house from her Fort Wayne apartment complex, but never returned home.

Three days later, a jogger found her body in a ditch in DeKalb County. She had been raped and suffocated.

In April, as loved ones marked the passage of 30 years with a balloon launch, investigators assured them that they remained committed to solving the crime.

The following news release was sent to local media shortly before 1 p.m. on Sunday:

This morning, July 15, 2018, agents of the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Indiana State Police arrested John D. Miller, M/W, DOB: 7/7/1959 of Grabill, Indiana, in connection with the homicide of April Tinsley, which occurred in April 1988. Miller has been preliminarily charged with Murder, Child Molesting, and Confinement. He will make his first Court appearance tomorrow in the Allen Superior Court at the Bud Meeks Justice Center for an Initial Hearing. If probable cause is found, the State of Indiana will be given 72 hours to file formal charges.

The Probable Cause Affidavit is included with this press release. No further factual information will be released pursuant to the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Additional information regarding court dates will be released by this office as events unfold.

The investigation is ongoing by the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Indiana State Police, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sheriff’s Department of Allen County; as well as the Offices of the Prosecuting Attorney in Allen and in Dekalb County.

A press conference will be held Tuesday July 17th at 11a.m. in the Omni Room on the 2nd floor of Police Operations Center of the Rousseau Center, One Main Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana. No additional information will be released until the press conference.

John Miller probable cause

John Miller mugshot
Jacob Burbrink

Jacob Burbrink

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