Cold case cracked.

Many years ago, 30 to be exact, back in the era when children didn’t have their pictures taken every hour, with video every day, an 8-year-old girl in Fort Wayne was abducted, raped and murdered. Her name was April Tinsley. This weekend, police made an arrest. The suspect still lives in the area.

The picture at that link is burned into my brain. It is the only photo anyone had of her, and because the crime was so heinous and went unsolved for so long, it ran dozens of times, in both papers, on all the TV stations. I never heard what happened to her family. They were poor. The neighborhood wasn’t the best. But she was loved, and this was a horrible thing. This part interests me:

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.

Another case solved by DNA and 23andme, or Ancestry, or one of those. But it’s the 2004 anecdote that interests me. Who wrote those notes? An angry lover, or the culprit himself? And all those condoms — what’s that about?

His name is John Miller, and he lives in Grabill, an Amish town. I wonder if he’s an ex-. He’s also 59, which would make him roughly 29 at the time of the crime. Imagine growing to the cusp of old age, carrying that around. When the police showed up at his trailer and said they wanted to talk to him, they asked if he knew why. He replied, “April Tinsley.”

What a world.

Some other things that happened in it over the weekend:

A jaguar escaped its enclosure at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and killed eight animals. #badass

This column, by the widow of John McNamara, one of the journalists killed in Annapolis last month, will gut you if you have a soul.

Finally, another argument to abolish the electoral college: In about 20 years, half the U.S. population will live in eight states. Demography is fascinating.

Gotta run. A good week ahead to all.

Posted at 6:47 pm in Current events |
 

37 responses to “Cold case cracked.”

  1. Deborah said on July 15, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    That article by the journalist’s widow is indeed gut wrenching, but very worth reading.

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  2. brian stouder said on July 15, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Look at the image the police came up with 2 years ago –

    https://www.wane.com/news/crime/police-release-updated-rendering-of-suspected-tinsley-killer/1071788386

    which looks very much like the photo of the suspect they just arrested –

    https://www.wane.com/news/local-news/police-make-arrest-in-notorious-april-tinsley-homicide-cold-case/1304158155

    Thirty years ago I hadn’t met Pammy yet, but was married and had a 1 year old, and lived in Southeast Fort Wayne (where I was born and grew up) – and really, considered the neighborhood where this happened to be a pretty nice place….older, surely – but the houses (although closer together) were larger and looked different from one another (or more different than the tract houses of my old neighborhood)

    It’s tremendous that they got this guy – even as I brace myself for more terrible news. For example – did a guy as irredeemably terrible as this one really stop with committing ONE such horror?

    As Nance says – the little girl’s neighborhood wasn’t the best – but indeed, it’s a a damned sight better than the God-forsaken rural area that this shit-bag came from

    (and here I shall resist the almost irresistible impulse to speculate how the suspected killer’s neighborhood voted, in the last election, for example)

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  3. alex said on July 15, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Totally floored about the arrest in the Tinsley killing, but even more by the brutally frank confession about sodomizing the dead body — by someone living in our midst all these years. I’m sure it will all play out in the coming days as what a squicky, repressed place this is, but no one will point out that this is the fucking Cletus Safari to beat all.

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  4. beb said on July 16, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I’m beginning to think that maybe North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana ought to be combined into one Tacas sized state because nobody lives there. Also Arizona, New Mexico Nevada and Utah could to lumped together. Or maybe we should pay a constitutional amendment devolving and state with less than 2 million citizens to territorial status.

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  5. Dexter Friend said on July 16, 2018 at 12:56 am

    LA Times, NY Times, Freep, Trib, all paywalls now. A friend even shared her info for the NY Times but somehow they are onto that now and demanded lots more info. Anyway, it seems the NY Post is about the only free-access newspaper left, and the SF paper allows limited access, too. Hey, the fees for subs are dirt-cheap, but like a shot of booze or a drag off a smoke…if I start, Katy bar the door…I won’t stop, I’ll buy them all.
    I never thought the April Tinsley case would be solved. That name is emblazoned on everyone’s brain as much as Emmett Till’s name is from an earlier generation. With the DNA testing, it’s not a miracle, it’s science. But doesn’t it feel like a needle-in-a-haystack miracle?

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  6. Suzanne said on July 16, 2018 at 6:52 am

    I, too, am amazed that the Tinsley case was solved.
    The guy himself may have put the notes by the condoms. Remember that shortly after the murder, a message was written on a barn not that far from Grabill (Schwartz Rd. I had relatives living near there at the time). It said “I kill 8 year old April M Tinsley D]id you find the other shoe haha I will kill again.” There were notes referencing the murder on some kid’s bike in 2004. Probably the same time the condom notes were found.
    I drove by the barn a few years after the murder & the writing was still visible. Chilling.
    It’s already made the national news: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/07/16/i-been-watching-you-a-child-killer-taunted-little-girls-with-terrifying-notes-police-say-after-30-years-dna-led-to-an-arrest/

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  7. FDChief said on July 16, 2018 at 11:27 am

    And, as a side note to the demographics written up in the WaPo article, that will mean that half of us will be ruled by the other half, who will be, largely, older, whiter, and rural.

    If that is not a stage-setting for a civil war, I cannot think of a better. The nation will be half-FOX and half-free, and it will either fall apart or become all one or all the other. I hope I will not live to see that.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on July 16, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Abolition of the Electoral College is long, long overdue, but good luck trying to torpedo it. It benefits conservatives by concentrating great power in a handful of rural states. Once Brett Kavanaugh gets his lifetime appointment on SCOTUS, you can pretty much forget any kind of serious progressive reform of any kind for, oh, maybe 40 or 50 years.

    Majority rule is kind of a sick joke. A majority of Americans support sensible gun control, some form of national medical coverage, immigration, Roe v. Wade, consumer protections, etc. yet Congress and the courts stand at the barricades screaming, “No!” Look at the make up of Congress: overwhelmingly older white males, overwhelmingly Christian, overwhelmingly wealth. Think anything is going to change?

    Sorry. I got out of the cynical side of the bed today.

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  9. Connie said on July 16, 2018 at 11:42 am

    April Tinsley in the Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/07/16/i-been-watching-you-a-child-killer-taunted-little-girls-with-terrifying-notes-police-say-after-30-years-dna-led-to-an-arrest/?utm_term=.3da204f4d0d9&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

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  10. Joe Kobiela said on July 16, 2018 at 11:49 am

    One of my running partners was the one who found her, he is a Vietnam combat veteran, will sometimes talk about Vietnam, but never about finding that little girl.
    Pilot Joe

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  11. Suzanne said on July 16, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Wow. Trump basically handed the country over to Russia today. I am utterly sick.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ahead-of-putin-summit-trump-faults-us-stupidity-for-poor-relations-with-russia/2018/07/16/297f671c-88c0-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html

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  12. Sherri said on July 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Remember when we thought we won the Cold War?

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22164229/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-press-conference-disgrace/

    But, who cares, they aren’t Commies anymore. Republicans aren’t going to do anything.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22131898/republican-party-trump-red-line/

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  13. Sherri said on July 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Remember when we thought we won the Cold War?

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22164229/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-press-conference-disgrace/

    But, who cares, they aren’t Commies anymore. Republicans aren’t going to do anything.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22131898/republican-party-trump-red-line/

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  14. Sherri said on July 16, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Conservatives opposed to government programs say the public money chases out private money, but they don’t have any problem with spending vast sums when they want to implement their own agenda.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/apxap-analysis-billionaires-fuel-powerful-state-charter-groups/

    I will say this for Gates. Unlike some charter school advocates, he’s not a grifter. I think he really does want to improve education. He is just like too many techies: really smart and convinced that because of that and his success in one field, how hard can it be to solve another field? When I was on a math curriculum adoption committee, I started digging into Common Core, and was amazed at how many different ways the Gates Foundation was behind it. Not only had they provided money for the development of it and for advocating adoption of it, most of the curricula implementing had Gates money behind them.

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  15. Jakash said on July 16, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    As “MisterJayEm” tweeted: “We can stop science now. This is the study I’ve been waiting for.”

    https://twitter.com/MisterJayEm/status/1018310242063585280

    https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-02-20/study-drinking-alcohol-more-important-than-exercise-to-living-past-90?

    I’m sure one can be confident that this article from February will be the final word on the matter. ; )

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  16. Dexter Friend said on July 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    I have been chirping about Donald Trump being a Russian agent for over two years. Today added proof to my claim. Instead of my going off here like a mad man, just read a little bit of today’s presser from Helsinki…a bit of the transcript. It’s shameful, this creep has no business in The White House. The joke’s on the yokels who voted for Trump. I mean, they do see it, don’t they? https://www.vox.com/2018/7/16/17576956/transcript-putin-trump-russia-helsinki-press-conference

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  17. Jakash said on July 16, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Just as, famously, “Only Nixon could go to China,” only a Republican could sell us out to Russia and not be excoriated and/or impeached for it by those conservative “patriots” in Congress. It’s appallingly hypocritical, though treasonous might be the preferred description.

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  18. Brandon said on July 16, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Madonna, the one and only.

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  19. Mark P said on July 16, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Treason in the Constitution is giving aid and comfort to our enemies (or waging war against the US — Confederates, anyone?). If Russia is an “enemy”, then Trump is a traitor.

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  20. David C. said on July 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Jeff Flake is very upset.

    https://twitter.com/JeffFlake/status/1018891518654976000

    If only he was a member of a co-equal branch of government and could do something about it.

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  21. alex said on July 16, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    And the Republicans called Obama’s diplomacy “apology tours.”

    We should be so lucky to replace il Douche with a president who can make amends for this shit.

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  22. Bitter Scribe said on July 16, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    That column by the woman widowed by the Annapolis shooting was beyond sad.

    Carl Hiaasen’s brother was among the victims. I keep waiting for Hiaasen to write a column tearing the NRA a new orifice, but it hasn’t happened yet, if it ever will. Maybe he can’t bring himself to write about it, or just doesn’t want to.

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  23. Deborah said on July 16, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    How any American can stand up for Trump after what he did today is beyond me.

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  24. bb in oh said on July 17, 2018 at 2:54 am

    I’ve only been there for 10 months (home for a handful of weeks right now thanks to teachers’ summer holiday) so I won’t pretend that I can offer the Euro Perspective on things, but I’ve been watching CNN talking heads explode for several hours now and it’s pretty clear: Trump’s performance with Vlad in Helsinki feels like a different animal entirely. Trump really stepped in it. The American president just can’t go to Europe, call NATO a foe for 2 days and then start purring when he sits on Putin’s lap. This is a bridge too far, and may well be the topic that tilts several elections come November. Trump choosing Putin over the US security apparatus on the international stage ain’t a topic that will go away quickly.

    Different note entirely but we English majors know that getting all the way to publication is a marathon completed. Congrats, Snarkworth!

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  25. Jolene said on July 17, 2018 at 6:06 am

    The WaPo story re April Tinsley is impressively detailed. An example of the kind of journalism that Jeff Bezos’s money allows, I guess.

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  26. Jolene said on July 17, 2018 at 6:34 am

    In a longer story about the use of DNA databases to solve crimes, as was done in the Tinsley case, WaPo reporter Justin Jouvenal describes how the practice came about, some of the cases in which it’s been used, and the privacy issues associated with this approach. I can’t honestly say that the privacy issue concerns me greatly, but it does mean that it’s something for police to be cautious about in their investigations.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/in-decades-old-crimes-considered-all-but-unsolvable-genetic-genealogy-brings-flurry-of-arrests/2018/07/16/241f0e6a-68f6-11e8-bf8c-f9ed2e672adf_story.html

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  27. nancy said on July 17, 2018 at 7:14 am

    I’ve been checking my conservative Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, etc. If I can boil them down, the defenses amount to:

    * We’ve done this stuff forever, don’t fool yourselves, etc. (So much for American exceptionalism.)

    * Anyway, Obama was worse (apology tour, father of ISIS/antifa, etc.), and Hillary would have been more of the same.

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  28. Suzanne said on July 17, 2018 at 7:44 am

    I am pretty sure Congress, as it is now configured, will do nothing. Sen Ben Sasse was on NPR this morning, hand wringing and pearl clutching. Indiana’s Sen Todd Young and (useless) Rep Jim Banks tweeted more pearl clutching yesterday about how they stand behind Dan Coats and the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference. Fine. It seems not one of them has a clue that they are in Congress to DO something in situations like this. Apparently NRA money speaks louder than treason.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 17, 2018 at 8:17 am

    For all the global, the local still matters. And this is valid in my own experience.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2018/07/16/how-closures-of-local-newspaper-increase-local-government-borrowing-costs/

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  30. Snarkworth said on July 17, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Thank you, bb in oh!

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  31. Icarus said on July 17, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Even Matt Walsh criticized Trump, although maintains it isn’t treason. Walsh flock however pushes back, saying our intelligence agencies are corrupt, inept, etc.

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  32. Deborah said on July 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I learned something new today from Nancy’s Twitter, I had never heard of or seen a pedal pub before. I googled it after Nancy mentioned it.

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  33. beb said on July 17, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    People who have been saying that the Republican Party has become the Donald Trump party are on to something. Individual Republicans may be appalled at what Trump has done but don’t anything because for them it’s always Party Uber Allis.

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  34. Jakash said on July 17, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Unsurprisingly, Hair Furor’s *real* problem with the “witch hunt” is that he’s known that he’s a witch all along…

    https://twitter.com/ezraklein/status/1018954050514116609

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  35. Brian stouder said on July 17, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Insert impassioned dissent w/Sherri’s pro-Gates/education post here!

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  36. Sherri said on July 17, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Brian, but I didn’t intend a pro-Gates post. I don’t like what Gates is doing, just appreciate that at least he’s not a grifter. I disagree strongly with a handful of billionaires setting educational policy. I believe we ought to tax those billionaires a lot more, and then we can set policy and fund it in a more democratic fashion.

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  37. brian stouder said on July 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Sherri – AGREED – 1000%!!!

    I think the single biggest, most important, most crucial/definitive/forward-leaning/consequential thing we (as in “We, the people”) do is – public education.

    The privatizers who constantly try to grab public funds intended for public education – and who are all-too-often successful at this – literally suck the funding directly away from genuinely public schools.

    A genuinely public school – a publicly funded elementary/high school, for example – might have kiddos show up at the door who don’t speak English, or they may have physical disabilities, or they may show up hungry, or without a coat that’s warm enough in the winter, or without a pencil or a pen that works…..and the genuinely public school says “Come on in/Welcome!/Here’s a bite to eat; and can arrange for English language learning….none of which will turn a profit, and all of which will produce a young American citizen – which is one of the greatest things about real public schools.

    I think Bill Gates is generally a proponent for charter schools and other “picky” (non-public) schools, and (despite what may well be his better intentions) he has had a corrosive effect on real public schools, and to that extent – on the United States of America.

    And let me hasten to add – even as I sincerely write this, I agree that I’m almost certainly over-stating these concerns.

    I (genuinely) blame this (my downcast appraisal of Gates) on our current President – who is another wealthy white guy who does not know what he does not know

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