Murder of 8-year-old April Tinsley: John D. Miller taunted investigators for 30-years before DNA evidence caught up with him

Mugshot of John D Miller
John D Miller confessed after 30-years to murdering and raping 6-yer-old April Tinsley. Pic credit: Allen County Sheriff’s Office

On Good Friday 1988 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 8-year-old April Marie Tinsley was walking in her neighborhood when she was abducted, raped, and murdered.

For nearly 30-years, her murder remained unsolved despite the determination of investigators. Their resolve was pushed further by the taunting that came from her killer. However, justice finally caught up with John D. Miller, thanks to scientific developments in forensic science.

A frantic search was initiated when April was first reported missing; however, her body was discovered three days later, about 20 miles from where she was taken.

Miller taunted the investigators, two years after the murder he scrawled a message on a barn door near where her body was found; it read: “I kill [sic] 8-year-old April Marie Tisley I will kill again.”

John D Miller threatened to kill again

Then in 2004,  mysterious notes appeared at four homes in the Fort Wayne area. They were placed in small bags and attached to bicycles that young girls had left in their backyards.

The notes purported to be from April’s killer and claimed that these girls would be their next victims. The messages read: “Hi Honey I Been watching you I am the same person that kidnapped an Rape an kill Aproil Tinsely, you are my next victem. [sic]”

Along with the notes, the bags contained used condoms and photos of the killer’s body.

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The police finally caught up with Miller by entering DNA recovered from the crime scene into a genealogy database, which led them to the killer.

Police took more DNA from Miller’s garbage and compared it with that from the crime scene, just to be sure. It was another match.

When they brought him in for questioning in July 2017, Miller cracked under pressure and gave a full confession. He said that after raping April, he choked her to death. He also admitted to having sex with her corpse.

Miller was sentenced to 80 years in prison: 50 years for murder and 30 years for child molestation.

More from Predator at Large

Follow the links to read about more horrific murders profiled on Predator at Large.

James Kater abducted 15-year-old Mary Lou Arruda from her bicycle in Massachusetts in 1978. He took her to an isolated forest where he tied her to a tree and decapitated her. The next day Kater married his fiance and went on honeymoon. A week later, police arrested him on his return home.

Jose Ferriera was 16-years-old when he murdered 13-year-old Carrie Jopek and hid her remains under a porch just because she rejected his sexual advances. The guilt ate away at him for 30-years before he cracked and finally took responsibility for his actions by confessing to the police.

Predator at Large airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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