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DNA Leads to Arrest in 8-Year Old April Tinsley’s 1988 Murder

DNA evidence allegedly links an Indiana man to the murder 30 years ago of April Tinsley. FBI/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Advances in genealogy technology have led to arrest in a gruesome 1988 crime that had puzzled investigators for decades.

More than 30 years ago, the body of an abducted 8-year-old girl, April Tinsley, was found in her home-state of Indiana. She had been raped and mutilated. Although her captor left ridiculing notes at the scene of the crime admitting to her murder and threatening to strike again, no suspect was ever found.

The cold case was unsolved until a breakthrough Sunday thanks to recent genealogical advances. Investigators were finally able to track down the long-sought after suspected killer by inputting DNA collected from the crime scene to a genealogical database.

Nearly 24 hours after the discovery, Fort Wayne detectives took 59-year-old John D. Miller into custody on preliminary charges of murder, child molestation, and confinement, according to WPTA.

Convincing DNA evidence provided by the database led to his arrest, according to a probable cause affidavit. Miller admitted to the crimes during police interview and will be held at the Allen County Jail as he awaits formal charges.

“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, the president and CEO of the National Center for Exploited & Missing Children said in a video message to the station.

The cold case is one of several to be brought back to life in recent months by tracing DNA samples to those plugged into popular genealogical databases. Most famously, in May, California police arrested the suspected Golden State Killer nearly four decades by using genealogy website GEDMatch.

“These cases should remind everyone that no matter how much time goes by, the answers are out there,” said Clark.